In dentistry, philosophy matters. In fact, it matters in every single practice whether we are consciously aware of it -or not. Bob Barkley knew this, and after first hearing this paradigm-shifting truth from L. D Pankey, he sought assistance.
Nate Kohn, Jr., PhD, was an educational psychologist (who also held a degree in Theology). Nate had been working with dentists for years at the time Bob met him. And Nate, an avid believer in the recently published work of Carl Rodgers PhD on person-centered therapy, helped Bob clarify his person-centered practice philosophy as well as successfully implement it.
From there, Bob shared what he had learned with the world.
Unfortunately, Nate unexpectedly died in 1970, and this forced Bob to continue on his philosophical journey without him. (Bob connected with Avrom King, a Social Psychologist, at about that time, and Avrom worked with Bob via letter and phone calls for an average of five hours a week on Philosophy and application up until Bob’s passing). Bob stated, “I cannot overstate the value of Nate’s psychological guidance during this most critical phase of my life…Nate’s death made it necessary for me to read extensively in order to find references for some of our concepts.”
In other words, the crisis forced by Nate’s death caused Bob to dig down still deeper and grow even more in his understanding of the need for a clarified practice philosophy.
In his book, Successful Preventive Dental Practice, Bob sites the following quote regarding a major problem which still exists within dentistry today, that “outside-in” solutions are commonly employed to resolve “inside-out” issues…issues directly associated with philosophy.
“Life is such that we frequently can ‘get on’, or even ‘get ahead’ , without much reflection, sliding along in paths already well worn by others. This is not to say, that in doing so we may not learn many things along the way. We can continually add new patterns of belief and increase our ability to deal with future situations without understanding the import of what we added.
This process, tends to smother our sensitivity to incongruence; hence, when life occasionally forces us out of well-worn paths, we are overwhelmed by confusion and frustration. We suddenly discover that what we possess is a conglomeration of patterns, not an integral structure. What appears to be knowledge, turns out to be mere information. What seemed to be basic organizing beliefs – a philosophy of life – turns out to be a ‘modus operandi’, a way of working, learned largely through thoughtless imitation, informal conditioning, or by simple trial and error.”*
What is your practice philosophy, and how do you apply it?
* Excerpted from Reflective Thinking: The Method of Education. Hullfish, Gordon, & Smith, 1961
Paul A Henny DDS
Thought Experiments LLC, ©2017