In the late 1990’s I began working with impaired, distressed and disruptive physicians, nurses, psychologists, executives and senior leaders at Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Health System. As the Associate Director of the internal Employee Assistance Program and an ex-officio member of the Professional Assistance Committee (a sub-committee of the Johns Hopkins Hospital’s Medical Board) I was the chief psychologist/consultant for such issues. I bring these years of invaluable experience and perspective to each and every consultative and clinical encounter in my private practice.
What is a “disruptive professional?”
Much has been written in the literature about professional impairment, and the majority of this has focused on alcohol and drug-related impairment. Professionals can also suffer impairment secondary to psychiatric illness, such as depressive and anxiety disorders, and physical illness or injury, such as traumatic head injury or senility. Even more common are everyday life stressors including relationship difficulties, concerns about children and mourning the death of a loved one; these factors often negatively affect one’s performance.
Separate from these types of difficulties is the behaviorally disruptive professional. A disruptive professional can undermine morale, diminish productivity, increase turnover of staff, pose safety hazards and generally have a negative influence upon others in the work environment. In the extreme, the behaviorally disruptive professional acts in such a way that others may feel personally intimidated or fear physical harm.
What can be done?
Various organizations seek my guidance about how to best handle situations involving impaired, distressed or disruptive professionals. Such approaches focus on protecting the professional and his/her career, viewing him/her as a valued person and part of the organization’s human capital. In line with this, I often recommend policy development and refinement when necessary.
I also available to provide clinical and/or coaching services to the professional who recognizes his or her own troubled behavior, decreased productivity or general dissatisfaction.
Professionals who are self-referred or referred by a concerned supervisor, mentor, healthcare provider, family member or friend are scheduled for an individual assessment consultation. This assessment is typically comprised of an individual interview with me and the gathering of collateral information from the referral source and others who have interest in, and perspective of, the professional’s well-being. Occasionally, I use questionnaires and/or psychological tests to provide additional information to aid in the assessment process. Following the initial consultation, I provide feedback and recommendations to the professional and, with the professional’s consent, to the referral source as well.
Professional and Executive Coaching
Professional and executive coaching is often focused primarily upon enhancing self-awareness and gaining insight regarding the implications of one’s interpersonal behaviors. Within a coaching relationship, professionals learn about their strengths, weaknesses, skills and limitations; coached professionals are challenged to leverage strengths, acknowledge and confront weaknesses, change behaviors, and achieve measurable results.