Commitment is Key

Build your relationships first….then your dentistry. ~ Bob Barkley

Commitment is Key

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There are two distinctly different ways patients will say “yes” to treatment. Some say “yes” because the dentist has positional authority, which they subsequently honor. In this case, the patient COMPLIES without significantly understanding what is going to happen or why the treatment has been proposed.

On the other hand, others make much more deeply informed choices through facilitated choice-making. These decisions are based upon their values, goals, and vision for themselves going forward. These decisions represent COMMITMENT.

Achieving commitment is an essential step when providing complex restorative, esthetic, and/or expensive treatment. (Commitment is less critical when proposing less expensive primary or emergency treatment).

Problems arise when patients COMPLY but do not fully COMMIT, particularly when some aspect of the treatment process goes off-course. Perhaps the treatment process was much more uncomfortable or inconvenient than anticipated, or the outcome was not what they expected …the implant failed…the crown was never comfortable to chew on…the new fillings were always sensitive…the root canal always odd…the front teeth never looked completely natural.

This potentially creates resentment, or a level of disappointment which may or may not be expressed. In some cases, the patient leaves the practice as a result. And in the worst case scenario, the patient pursues legal advice.

Co-discovery, pioneered by Bob Barkley, helps patients to more consistently and predictably move toward commitment. Complying is not necessarily collaborating, and often does not involve the patient taking ownership of their problems – a critical boundary issue.

Commitment is different – it is collaborative. It places ownership in the right place ( a shared – interdependent relationship ). Commitment is the goal, and being patient and waiting for it to emerge via facilitation is key.

Paul A Henny, DDS

Thought Experiments LLC, ©2017


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