Bob Barkley taught us that when learning involves a change in self-organization – a change in a person’s beliefs about themselves, it can be quite threatening to their self-concept, and therefore the acceptance of the validity of that new information will often be resisted. And we see this often with a person who enters our office thinking “I am doing just fine,” and who then learns differently…who then learns that they are actually in a state of significant decline, or a state of disrepair or damage. And in response to this new information, rather than accept it, they fault us for trying to sell them solutions to problems they do not yet perceive to be significant.
On the other hand, new learnings which are not threatening to a person’s self-perception are much more easily perceived and assimilated, particularly when external threats are at a minimum. In other words, when the person feels safe and truly accepted for who they are, and what they are learning is not being used as a hotbox sales opportunity, but rather and opportunity for them to potentially take care of themselves better.
This represents the core concept behind co-discovery, the strategic revealing of new information to another person in such a way that the information is insightfully self-instructive, and therefore growth-enhancing. (And by growth here I mean growth towards a higher level of self-sustainable health)
Hence, growth is a choice which in this case, is facilitated by the dentist and team through the way they strategically manage the learning process and therefore how the patient FEELS about it.
And the success of this process always comes down to how well we know the patient on an emotional and on a values level – something we simply can’t do well during a rushed exam in the hygiene room. Hence, the co-discovery process is not just about teeth, or occlusion, or airway, or whatever, rather it’s about relevance-to them currently as well as going forward.
Paul A. Henny, DDS
Thought Experiments LLC, ©2018