One of my pet peeves as a clinician is the intake process. These days, with online booking, online correspondence, online consent forms and online health history documents the subtle art of listening to a person tell you how they are is getting lost. For the sake of efficiency, human contact is being automated out of our clinical experiences, particularly during the pandemic.
Writing about this puts me in a tight spot since, after all, I’m putting it online. My vision for all the discussions taking place at Anatomy on Purpose is to revive some elements of our humanness when it comes to health, even while we do it on the computer.
What bothers me about the automated intake process is the fact that pages and pages of forms are filled out that may or may not be thoroughly read by the practitioner or completed in a heartfelt way by the client. Everyone is busy. We fly through things. For this reason, the clinic sends out an intake package and the client clicks their way through the routine list of questions about their symptoms. Then the practitioner opens the document, looks for the routine details to ‘get the just’ of why the person’s there, and gets right to work trying to fix it.
The issues here are as follows:
- No thought-provoking questions are asked
- No self-reflective answers are given
- No genuine discussion is had
Without these three ingredients, the client-clinician intimacy required for ‘healing,’ ‘trust,’ or ‘transformation,’ cannot be born. If we want to change something in our bodily experience, we have to understand our body in a new way. To understand our bodies in a new way, we need thought-provoking questions and self-reflective answers- to make new constellations in our mind by connecting the dots of our symptoms, history, and behaviour.
I’ve been to so many clinics, met so many great professionals, and experienced this same pattern. I half-heartedly fill out their forms, they flip through them like they’ve read them a thousand times and then we start treatment- feeling like we know nothing about who I am or why I’m really there. That’s why I built this “Owning Your Intake” document.
Yes. It’s just another online form. The difference is—it’s just for you.
In my office, I use the framework of this form with every new person I meet. Except they don’t fill it out. I ask them the questions directly and I write down their answers. This makes it a discussion, something we work through together. After doing this thousands of times, I realized that the thought-provoking questions and the heart-felt answers are something people could really do for themselves if given the chance. They could own their intake.
I’m sharing the document here, for those of you wanting to take a deep dive into the question, “How am I right now?” It’s an inventory of bodily status, symptoms and experience that helps make connections between the symptoms in the foreground, and the things connected quietly in the background.
What I hope this intake offers, is a way to get ‘unstuck’ from the perspective that your body has isolated parts and problems. “I just have pain in my hip,” people say when they come to my office, as though their hip is a separate issue from the rest of their life, body, and behaviour. We can’t help but focus on the things that hurt the most, but the truth of the matter is, our bodily sensations are steeped in and informed by what we do in our lives most often, and how we feel while we’re doing it. Hip pain is just one tiny part of how you are and who you are right now.
Owning Your Intake follows the five basic principles we study at Anatomy on Purpose:
- It’s Just One Body
- It’s Built to Do This
- Life’s a Drag
- Life is Movement
- It Knows How to Heal
The study of these five basic principles makes a foundation for understanding what a body is, what it does and how it works. We’ll go deeper into each of them in other posts, but for now, I’ll hang them up here like a code of honour for how to think about a body in a way that deeply respects its form.
The intake form which I’ve attached here is just for you. It is broken up into sections and meant to be filled out like a journal entry or a personal exploration of the one body you’re in.
Without a deep and thorough intake of your own bodily experience, how can you know what you need? Who you need? Or what to do next? The booklet is intended to give you a new lens through which to consider your body. How it is, where it’s at, and what it’s been through.
The Intake form is intended to feel like a good conversation with an old friend. A really good catch-up. Except the old friend is your body and the person asking is you.
Download the booklet. Print it out or fill it out online. Then you can own your intake—and take that information with you wherever it’s needed the next time you need help.
Take your time.
Visit it often.
Make several drafts.
Things are changing all the time.