July 12, 2014 ~ Captain's exploration log.

This new clinic is a foreign, bewildering place of hot tea, water features and piped in music.  The inhabitants claim to be rural community outpatient mental health, but I continue to look for signs of proof to this claim.  Upon arrival, the presiding therapists came out of their offices and while I presumed their first, most pressing question for me would be "When are you going to take your first crisis shift?," they most confusedly instead asked me my name.  Additional observation needed; we don't appear to be speaking the same language.

Seriously, though.  Where *am* I?

Maybe it's because this clinic is actually in the town with the PAC12 University.  Maybe it's because of some vision somebody had ages ago to buck all stereotypes of rural community outpatient mental health.  Maybe I don't know why it is, but this workplace is different.

~ We have a prescriber who's there several days a week.  A prescriber!
~ We have several licensed social workers, licensed mental health counselors and clinical psychologists.
They like each other. (??)
~ The executive director attends all clinical meetings.  Quietly.  Just so he can "really know what you guys are dealing with on a daily basis."
~ Despite the fact that I am already qualified to be a DMHP in this state (read: I can involuntarily detain people to psych beds), nobody has asked me when I'm going to start taking crisis shifts.  They like doing it.  There's no rush to push it off on someone else.
~ There are *several* case managers.
~ I am actually being *trained* to do crisis on call, and with that, am receiving a ton of training on SPMI (never had that before, folks.)
~ I called my first clients and when I asked where I needed to document that, I received a concerned, but caring, look, and my co-worker stated, "Oh, you don't.  It's fine.  People trust you here."
~ We gave a "great" relationship with local law enforcement.  (? What ?)
~ The Friday Therapists (the few of us who work Fridays) asked me to lunch the first week.
~ HR actually sat down with me the first day to explain benefits, gave me a key and asked me several times if I had any questions.

Look.  I'm not saying it's perfect.  I'm not saying things aren't going to bother the crap out of me at points or that I'm going to love everything.  I'm not delusional.

What I am saying is that this clinic feels more like the clinic I left in my native Portland.  I'm saying that I'm having cross disciplinary meetings.  I'm saying that we're speaking about heteronormative and gender normative language.  I'm saying that somebody said "prodromal" this week and I literally have not used that word in two years, despite working in mental health.

I *am* saying that people are happy at this clinic.  People have worked at this clinic for 20+ years and nearly every one of the old timers has said, "Fresh eyes!  Ask questions!  Let's better this process!"  I am saying that, after two years of rural driving, the clinic is 7 minutes from my house.  I am saying that I worked 40 hours (as opposed to 55 or 60) this week.

I *am* wondering if this is going to be the switch Shoes and I needed to be able to stay in this area for a few more years.    I am cautious, but I am hopeful.


  1. Andrea on July 13, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    So happy to hear that things are going well there, I smiled throughout this whole post. What a world of difference it makes to feel valued and supported, and work with happy people! So awesome. Hopeful for you too.

  2. Anonymous on July 14, 2014 at 6:01 AM

    Oh I hope I hope! A happy, healthy workplace! (Willow)

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