by Comprehensive Staff

04/03/2017 11:37 pm

You Gotta Have Heart: Evidence-Based Practice as an Ally

Chalkboard drawing of an EKG wave in white chalk and a red chalk heart drawn at the end of the wave

Before adolescence, it never occurred to me that it was possible to not play every possible sport.  My brothers and I batted, tackled, wrestled, and kicked our way through our first years.  Our father was generally involved in these endeavors, not necessarily because he himself was skilled or knowledgeable in the sport, but because he sincerely enjoyed it.  Therefore, in lieu of technical advice he would admonish us to “have heart.”  Rudy had heart (if you haven’t seen the film, I’m talking perseverance, grit, focus, integrity, etc.).  After every game, he wouldn’t just want to know how many points we scored or who won; he would want to know, “Did you play with heart?”  This is a question we should continually ask ourselves.

Working as a mental health counselor in a busy community mental health clinic, I am realizing what a goldmine of advice my father’s words were.  In our work, day-in and day-out, we have the sacred task of sitting with people as they face their greatest joys and sorrows, their tears and struggles to become and feel whole.  I am confident that our most valuable tool is our very personhood; our soft hearts, evinced by: the capacity to listen without thinking about what to say next, comfort with uncertainty, a realization of our limits, consistent recognition of the value and potential in each person sitting across from us (and I’m sure each of us could add to this list).  How do we best maintain this disposition?  I know that it requires humility. I have also found that the use of therapeutic interventions supported by quality science helps with this humility, relying as it they do on collective knowledge, rather than what I alone feel is needed.  This also frees me up to focus on what I most need to prepare and protect as counselor, my Rudyness, if you will.  In the film, Rudy didn’t come up with the rules of football, he just brought it, day-in and day-out, playing with lots of heart.  May we strive for the same.

By Patrick Lincoln, Child and Family Services Therapist, Walla Walla