Two dogs are sitting under a park bench. The first dog says, “Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?” The second dog says, “No, but it sure makes my mouth water.”
I live in a home filled with psychologists. As many of you know, my wife, Regina has been a Therapist for 35 years. My middle daughter, Nicole, has a Doctorate in Neuropsychology and my youngest daughter, Allison is in the process of earning her Masters degree to become a Psychiatric Social Worker. Throughout my career dinner time has always been a therapy session. At the dinner table, I would often begin conversations with, “I had a difficult patient today.” or “I completed a beautiful veneer case this morning.” or “My consulting client this afternoon was challenging.” It wouldn’t matter what I said, the answer I received would always be a question, “How did that make you feel?”
I recall one evening saying that I didn’t feel like anyone understood me and my daughter asked, “What do you mean by that?”
Well, I will tell you how it made me feel. It taught me that the key to success in a professional career, whether it be practicing dentistry or providing management coaching to dentists, is understanding that communication and relationships are the keys to success…even more than clinical prowess and having outstanding coaching skills. It has also taught me the importance of thinking outside the box.
Kelly and I have applied “thinking outside the box” to our dental management coaching company, Smile Potential. Our approach is entirely a team approach. When we work with our clients it involves the full participation of a doctor-coach, Me, an incredible administrative coach, Kelly or Donna, and one of our amazing team of Hygienist coaches, Lucrezia, Jamie and Judy. Most of them have also been dental assistants earlier in their dental careers. Our strategy is that when we work with our clients, there isn’t a single member of a dental team who can ever say that their coach doesn’t fully understand what they experience in their role in the office.
We also realized that if we truly wanted to maximize the understanding component of what we do, the obvious choice would be to include a psychologist in our equation. Therefore, a key member of our team is a clinical psychologist, Dr. Howard Gurr.
How many times do we call a dental practice and we hear the administrator say, “It’s a madhouse.” or, “It’s crazy here today.”
Who best to work with that kind of situation than a psychologist?
We introduce our clients to our psychologist team member, Dr. Howard Gurr, when we see that they are having communication difficulties or when there appears to be toxicity or challenges in the relationships in the practice. Of course, the members of most teams become a little anxious when they find out that this additional team member is a “shrink”, but they soon learn the benefits of Dr. Gurr’s skills. Most of the dental practices we work with are like families. The doctors and the members of their teams spend more time together than they do with their families. If we understand that family therapy can be so helpful to a dysfunctional family, wouldn’t it make sense that this process could also be of benefit to a dental practice family.
At times, we have introduced Dr. Gurr to a practice to intervene in serious conflict among team members. He has helped some of our doctors overcome low confidence and he has helped them learn the skills to become better leaders within their practices. He has helped doctors understand how some underlying traits, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Executive Functioning Disorder, have impacted on their functioning as the dentist and leader in their practices. He has helped increase the confidence and professionalism of numerous team members.
Additionally, Dr. Gurr has included a module of training for our practices to help differentiate between anxiety, fear and phobias, which many of our patients present with. It is incredibly helpful learning to understand how each of these affect the way our patients respond to what we do and how best we can help them receive treatment.
The addition of Dr. Gurr to our team has given an entirely new dimension to our coaching, one that is absolutely unique in the field and scope of Dental Management Consulting. We are introduced to so many practices each month. Most of them, we know, could benefit greatly from our services. Not all of them become clients and we know that it does not necessarily depend on our inability to meet what they perceive their needs for growth to be. The biggest determinant in whether a practice comes “on board” to work with us is the recognition that they are unhappy with the results and returns that they are getting in their practices and whether they are ready to commit to the changes that will result in different results.
How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?………… Only one, but it has to want to change. The same goes for our dental practices. Do you want to change the productivity, profitability, culture or level of fulfillment in your practice? If you do, 2018 will be a great year to strive for these changes. Allow us to help you reach the true potential for your practice. Join with the 31 practices and doctors that we worked with in 2017, who had a combined increase in revenue of $16 million in their practices with our coaching. Give us a call, lay back on the couch and tell us how you feel about that so that we can help you. That’s all for this session. We will see you next month.
For more information about how a psychologist could help your team and improve communication in your practice, please call us at 516-599-0214 or send an email to: