Perspectives of Previous Course Participants

Comments and Insights from CEHL II Participants

“Two things that I think I am doing better after the course: I am more willing to spend the time to listen, and I am trying harder to uncover the "underlying reason" for the presenting complaint, or listen with the "3rd ear", as it was taught. I am still faced with challenging patients who are not ready to accept counseling, and I've learned to be patient in the next visit, if the patient is willing to show up.”
– Larry Tien-Lan Chang, M.D., Pediatric Associates of Malden

“A few of the things that I found useful:


1. Interview techniques for getting at problems that may be more psychosocial than medical. Listening to others' interviews and the speakers who offered suggestions for extracting information from patients that may be difficult or uncomfortable to talk about, helped me to refine my practice. (I am thinking of the women who spoke about suicide and alcohol abuse in their families). How to bill for this service was also helpful.

2. T. Berry Brazelton was incredible. I use the technique of saying something positive about the child all the time.

3. The day-long course with actors was also helpful to improve interviewing techniques.”
Jessica McGovern, M.D., Milton Pediatric Associates

“I would say that, in short, the course gave me the confidence to give myself permission to provide the needed intervention MYSELF...sure, to provide necessary referrals, but to know that when push comes to shove, just listening is therapeutic. I knew that: I just needed the validation, and the course provided that.

I think that, often, pediatricians undervalue what they do; hence, so does everyone else!”
Jonathan A. Benjamin, M.D., Newton Centre, Massachusetts

“I have found [participation in the program] extremely useful, especially for those patients (usually teenagers) who do not want to see a therapist. I can say I use some of the techniques we talked about with nearly each session. I have tried bringing back parents, that has not been the most successful, but certainly inquiring about their history and their perspective really do help. I think the most valuable thing has been gaining confidence that I can practice psychosocial medicine. That’s not to say I feel like a social worker or actually provide therapy, but certainly can use the techniques we discussed to practice pediatric medicine in a more holistic manner.”
Alexy Arauz Boudreau, M.D., Chelsea Health Center, Massachusetts General Hospital

“I entered the CEHL course with a strong background in family focused, pediatric nursing care. I was comfortable talking about feelings based topics with patients and families. I frequently referred to social workers and psychologists for ongoing assessments and services for my patients. However many times patients failed to follow through.


My participation in the year long CEHL taught me that perhaps patients needed more support than a simple referral to another professional. The course staff gave me the idea and the skills to ask a family to return to the clinic just to talk about an emotional or difficult issue. Covering topics like billing for emotional assessment, generational family patterns, how to be a good listener, and being aware of your own emotional responses were extremely helpful. The monthly meetings and case supervisions were very enlightening. The monthly speakers were excellent, and added to my knowledge base.

I feel more prepared to sit with a family and listen to difficult or stressful issues. After a more in depth assessment, families may be better prepared to follow through with referrals to other professionals. At the very least, I have given my patients and families the opportunity to speak and be heard.”
Jane Hopkins Walsh RNC, PNP, MS, Children’s Hospital, Boston

“The CEHL course provides an opportunity to learn about mental health issues and about the therapeutic interview. Learning how to be supportive and really listen to families is an important skill that has implications for our practice, not only in issues regarding mental health. The group itself also has the potential to be a powerful source of learning and support. Here we are, primary care providers who obviously care enough about mental health issues to make the commitment to be a part of this course. That, alone, puts us in somewhat of a minority.”
Julie R. Bermant, RN, MSN, Baystate Health/Central High School Health Center

Comments and Insights from CEHL III Participants

When I first enrolled in the course I felt a bit skeptical as to how this course was going to help me. After all, I am a seasoned pediatrician with over 35 years of experience. I mentor medical students as well as nurse practitioners. I found to my surprise that the course more than exceeded my expectations.

Patients initially come to our office for their medical problems. I have always used this visit as an opportunity to explore any psychosocial issues .

Your course has given me the tools and the methods on how to be an even better listener and a better interviewer and as a result I feel I have become a better and a more sensitive doctor. When I interview patients, I now go into a more detailed analysis of psychosocial issues that may be developing in the family. The improvement of my skills with families is so obvious and the results so dramatic.

I feel that this course should be a required curriculum for all medical students and residents. It will bring the caring of patients to a higher level. Thank you for this incredible opportunity.

I will take the opportunity and thank you privately for the wonderful year you gave me. Each month I was looking forward to go the class and the month that I had to be away there was just a great emptiness. The intellectual stimulation lasted for a while after the sessions. It made me realize how much I needed these interactions to give me a larger purpose to being a doctor and a human being.

It is an amazing idea to come up with a course like this and it is so much needed. The feedback from everyone is the same. We all are trained as doctors to heal and for that we need to know a lot of practical information to be able to give the best to the patients. But my question when I enter a patient’s room is what else can I give to make your life a little bit different/better or just a little bit more challenging with a new viewpoint or a question? You have succeeded in presenting this in a formal way and bringing doctors together to discuss this very intimate approach to medicine that makes it whole. We need to be looking at families as functional entities affecting each other in positive and negative ways. We also need to take care of ourselves and each other as doctors.

What can I say other than thank you for this great experience. I would be poorer without this.

A sign of an extraordinary experience is not wanting it to end. The flip-side is to always leave them wanting more.

Julia, Beth, David, Howard - that is exactly what you did! Bravo!!! You have been magnificent and masterful teachers, role models and mentors. The same is true for the entire CEHL-2009 participants and contributors. THANK YOU especially for creating and maintaining an absolutely safe, trusting place to share and discuss questions, doubts and frustrations that occur when we invite our patients and their parents to tell us about the less obvious worries and concerns. What a gift you have been!

Your thoughtful comments, reflections, reasoning and insights have and will enrich my interactions with patients, families, students and colleagues. Seeds of transformation have been planted and nurtured; we'll see what comes up in the spring.

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I would like to thank the following for their generous support, without whom this web site and training program would not exist: The Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Foundation, The Alden Trust, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, Project INTERFACE (Newton Public Schools and the U.S. Department of Education), the Locke Educational Fund at Newton- Wellesley Hospital, Aetna Health Plan, the Kenneth B. Schwartz Center,  and the families of my medical practice. 

I hope you find this site useful and encourage any comments.

- Dr. Howard King, M.D.