We all have a deep longing and need for meaningful interpersonal connection. And we all have a need to feel acknowledged, valued, and yes – loved.

We all want to feel significant, seen, heard, and understood. We all would like to know that we are not suffering alone, and that what we are experiencing and suffering-through is not entirely unique…that others have “been there,” and they have not only survived, but thrived as a result of it.

All of these feelings, needs, and desires are within us, however, in our fast-paced, high-stress, and impersonal culture, we easily forget. It has become too easy for us to assume that we are more autonomous than we really truly are…that our functional independence represents a higher virtue than interdependence.

But such feelings are just an illusion – and do not represent the truth. Rather, they represent a rationalization, and a distortion of reality fabricated by our mind to help us get through yet another lonely, disconnected day.

When we intentionally allow the time and create the space to connect with our patients on a deeper interpersonal level, we not only become more effective, but we also are honoring our true nature…we are acting more “authentically.” We are acknowledging that we are inseparable from others – that we all share our humanity, along with similar fears, concerns, doubts, and hopes.

Yet, the deconstructionist nature of our insurance-centric profession wants to pull us in the exact opposite direction. It constantly wants to draw our attention to the tooth and not the person…to the problem, and not how the person feels about it, much-the-less what they aspire towards.

Yesterday, I spent about an hour in conversation and examination…back and forth, establishing facts, relevance, feelings, and personal meaning, as well as the start of a vision. This particular person was a 70 year old realtor with significant occlusal breakdown and concurrent loss of vertical dimension. She had two implants placed recently by an oral surgeon who never looked at her occlusion holistically, and who told her she was “ready” to have them restored. And indeed, they could be restored, but their chance of survival is limited due to the very unfavorable forces created by her destroyed anterior guidance.

“I have never had this kind of conversation with a dentist before,” she said. “I had no idea all of this was going on, and how things were trending. My previous dentists (there were two who were co-treating her since she spends part of her year in California) told me I had a few problems which needed to be addressed, but I have never had the opportunity to understand things in this way, I am so glad you took the time to share this with me.”

This is a perfect example of the brilliance of Bob Barkley’s work. When this person had previously been told that “she had some problems,” and was handed a list of what “needed to be done,” -she shut down, as she had no capacity to understand the new information in any kind of relevant context. Instead, a fear-based barrier went up because she felt like she was functioning as an isolated individual, alone, inadequate, unarmed, and flawed.

This represents a natural response in our current culture of mistrust, as well as a growing problem within our production-centric (instead of people-centric) profession. And this is why the data show that case acceptance rates for comprehensive dentistry hovers at best around the 30% mark for most dentists.

Relevance is everything.

Meaning is everything.

Creative problem solving (“success planning” as Bob Barkley used to call it) is everything.

CoDiscovery is a brilliantly designed way to connect with people, gently lift up their level of awareness, as it allows them to explore the relevance of what they are learning. “When awareness meets relevance, we have the birth of a new belief through a change in attitude toward a problem,” Barkley said.

So, we are all need to be in the ‘new belief development business’ if we want to be successful at facilitating heath in others. And that is only possible by knowing our patients on a much deeper and significant level.

Paul A. Henny, DDS

Read more on CoDiscovery.com

PS: That hour with my patient yesterday was pure enjoyment for me, as I watched the light bulbs turn on.