Christine Wilkinson

1201 Clients are our most important textbook and our best mentors


The purpose of this presentation is to convey the important part that our clients (or patients) play in our learning opportunities.  After all, they are the experts on their lives and able to provide the most accurate feedback regarding what interventions have best supported their recovery.


When working in the field of complex psychological trauma, it can be difficult to ascertain the best treatment for the client.  The general approach is to treat the presenting issues with a range of modalities that are individually suited to the client.   Missing the mark with treatment approaches is both frustrating for the clinician (nurse or student) and the client. Promoting attunement of the clinician to the client’s verbal and non-verbal feedback, and the development of a self-reflective capacity, are powerful learning paths that benefit both clinician and client.


Allowing the process of being “mentored” by the client and viewing their offerings as adding to our “textbook” of knowledge and working experience, is both honouring for the client and very effective for our learning and skill acquisition.  The client feedback can take many forms, written, verbal or observational.  Taking time to collect this information provides knowledge and future frameworks for supports and treatments.


Connecting the learning opportunities between clients and clinicians is a valuable experience and provides a place of learning beyond our other textbooks and mentors.

Key words: self-reflective capacity; complex trauma; learning opportunities.