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Credentials:  Deferential or Detrimental? 


As you know, I’m in the process of leaving my New Mexico clinic job.  What’s the hold-up?  Credentialing.  Even though I’ve practiced medicine for three decades, I have to prove—again-- that I am who I say I am and that my credentials (licenses, certifications, training, experience, references, clean legal record, etc.) are real.

I’m waiting for my federal DEA registration in Arizona to come through so I can legally prescribe controlled substances in Arizona.  Could take 4 to 6 weeks.  That’s after Arizona medical licensure took several months.  Every agency does its own investigation—from scratch—while doctors and clinics and patients wait.

In my field, where there’s ample opportunity for fraud, injury, abuse, and malfeasance of all sorts, I don’t object to due diligence.  What I question is the lack of coordination of bureaucratic efforts, the barriers to entry in getting doctors where they’re needed, and the complete irrelevance of all these documents to what’s really involved in being a good doctor!

What’s completely absent from this process is the human connection I have with my patients or with the people at the clinic where I will work.  This is where the real work takes place, but credentialing misses this entirely because it’s not documented.  Credentialing can screen out incompetents and frauds, but not much else.

This is not unique to medical credentialing or any profession or job.  It happens in spiritual pursuits and even in social relationships where processes or constructs become credentials, as in “he went to Yale Divinity School” or “she studied with a shaman” or “they’re really high level in the _____ lineage.”

I live in a place that that attracts people seeking or already on spiritual journeys.  Many people are genuinely (or not so genuinely) connected to spirit--but they can’t put food on the table or a roof over their heads.  Yet, somehow they find plane fare to an ashram in India or a shaman in Peru or passage to a Sundance, dipping into more spiritual practices around the world.

I honor all of these spiritual paths and those who walk them in a good way.  Much of the seeking, however, can be called “spiritual tourism” and can masquerade as spiritual credentialing for wide-eyed lost souls.  Each spiritual experience becomes a notch in their belts toward…what?   Enlightenment?  Guru status?  Bliss?

For many years, I’ve been in the business of guiding individuals on their paths to freedom, enlightenment, joy, satisfaction, pain management, you name it.  My credentials are impressive but pretty irrelevant, and I integrate my own life experience into the work that I do to help others.  But here’s the thing:  It doesn’t matter what therapeutic or spiritual approach you take.  The credentials don’t matter.  What matters is how an individual integrates whatever lessons into their daily walk.  These can be lessons learned from a therapeutic aha moment, a spiritual or personal growth workshop or teaching, a ceremonial trance, or even an ordinary tough day.  It doesn’t matter where your life lessons come from.  What matters is your daily walk.

So, when I hear a friend—and there have been many beautiful, talented, accomplished single women—tell me that the man that appears to love and cherish her hasn’t “worked on himself” enough, I wonder what credential she’s looking for and what she’s missing in him during the credentialing process she puts him through.  I try to tell her to scrap the checklist, stop credentialing, and do her own work if she needs to.  I try to tell her to see him for who he is now.

It doesn’t matter how he has integrated his life lessons and his process doesn’t have to match yours.  What matters is who he is and how he walks through life now.  Is he a good man who walks with integrity?  Can he be present with you and support your quest to be the best you can be?  Can you do that for him?  Can you both share yourselves in the silence as well as in the words?  And can you develop a language that you share--that binds and nourishes you both as you weave a life together through work, play, and all that life is?


One thought on “Credentials:  Deferential or Detrimental? ”

  • bradford

    Boy, do I agree with you, Deb. Thanks for this reminder. I love this way of practice- it is the only way to do our line of work. Horizontally and with an open heart. It is my prayer before every session. Sending love from Europe. b.

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