As a physical therapist specialising in the treatment of workplace injuries, I’d like to think that I’m a moderately healthy person, if only by virtue of being informed on the latest findings in exercise science and nutrition.
In short, I’d like to think I’m a good physical role model for my clients. Sometimes, though, I’ll see a client whose mental state seems to leave a lot to be desired. This, it seems to me, often corresponds to their injury taking longer to heal than it should. My problem is that I don’t have enough expertise in the field of mental health to really know how to approach it – I don’t want to intervene in a psychologically unhelpful way.
In these cases where it’s not clear whether there’s a mental component to the issues I’m working with, I’m wonder whether it would be out of line to refer these clients to a psychologist or mental health clinic. Mornington probably has a bunch of options for this, but I haven’t gotten around to looking into it properly.
While there seems nothing out of the ordinary about an allied health professional like myself making a referral to a psychologist, in this case it would necessitate me telling the client that I’ve done so when they are not necessarily receptive to it. I don’t want them to think I’m telling them that their physical symptoms are all in their head, so to speak.
Of course, due to the nature of my work, quite a few of my clients are already seeing a mental health practitioner as part of their treatment plan following an injury. Others, though, are not. Some them are receptive to it – in fact, a client who had suffered a fairly traumatic injury recently asked me for a psychiatrist referral. Mornington Peninsula colleagues, can you recommend any directions I could take in following this up?
Ultimately, I’m convinced that mental and physical health is all linked together. I need to improve my ability to convey this conviction to my clients.