All Hail The Dietitian with 7 Brains!

Why Should Dietitians Develop their Multiple Intelligences?

And where can you go to do it?

Tara MacGregor PACFA Reg Clinical & APD

‘It’s not how smart you are that matters, what really counts is how you are smart’. Howard Gardner

Prequel Nutshell

I am first and foremost a scientist (but I have my days!); a devotee of empiricism and the scientific method. It’s essential to respect the boundaries of scope of professional practice, they are there to keep us and our clients safe. With that said, in this article I am going to be describing some highly subjective, left of field territory! I don’t mean to contradict the previously described reverence but rather open discussion about the value of alternative methods for developing our effective therapeutic skill via outside-of-silo, experiential learning. For more risky thinking and an invitation to have fun at an event in December, read on.

First up: Mucho-Depresso-Intro

Throughout my 5 years of tertiary education to qualify as a Clinical Dietitian I really used only one kind of brain: what Dr Howard Gardner refers to as logical/mathematical intelligence. Objective reasoning makes sense as the foundational thinking of two science degrees, but when I look back on my Dietetics training I wonder about the balance of thinking presented to me. It was a near ‘death by data’ experience. I learned all the body data fed to me and entered the workforce with a set of solutions based on this data to diligently administer to ………. people.

Warning! System failure approaching! Data is a good match for machines – but for people? Well, I’m not so sure.

People are messy, unpredictable, frustratingly autonomous, vulnerable, excitable, emotional creatures, all wrapped up in a peculiar, highly individualistic cellular bundle – a human body. Human bodies don’t come with a slot that allows the scientist to ‘insert data here’. Trust me, I looked. A lot.

Following my data training, I stepped into a complex world with only one intelligence switched on. That was a shame as it wasn’t even my best one, or what I came to discover later, my most useful when it comes to assisting people with changing their behaviours.

Hold up: What do I mean by ‘intelligences’?

Let’s take a speed date with Dr Howard Gardner. Dr Gardner is an American Developmental Psychologist famous for turning educational theory on its head. His theory postulates that there are at least 7 forms of intelligences and we each have leanings and preferences. What I am raising for our consideration is how developing yourself outside of your essential ‘professional’ intelligence (mathematical-logical) could have profound impacts on your effectiveness and wellbeing as a practitioner.

I want you to keep reading so I’m not going to bore you with too much detail here and condense Dr Gardner’s lifetime of paradigm shifting work into 7 ‘twitter-esque’ bullet points at the end of this article. If you want more you can check out Appendix 1. If you are cramming this read into a spare two minutes, just keep going.

On a roll, I am going to throw another risky thought your way: adhering exclusively to scope of practice in our CPD can greatly limit our exposure to new ideas, experiences and thinking. In my opinion, backed by all the literature written on the limitations of silos in professional practice, we do ourselves a grave disservice sticking to the well-worn paths of ‘in house’ PD. Doing this, we run the risk of developing Same-Same-Synapse-Disease a terrible condition leading to burn out and narrow practice. Don’t panic! There is a cure!

Outside-of-silo leaning can help us turn our professional data into something world wise. For Dietitians, this is the world of bodies: how people live in them, relate to them, move them and feed them. When stimulated this way, we return to our scope of practice with more width and depth, we become more fluid; responsive to the humanity of our clients ….and it’s FUN.

Next Up: Mucho-Excito-Choice-o (OK that’s a bit lame-o)

The good news is, now we’ve all left the nest of tertiary training (or nearly for the ‘nearly grads’ reading this) – we can choose to learn with ALL of our intelligences!

Has this article got you thinking? Ready to give something new a go? Pavestones has a PD event coming up next month that offers the opportunity to really stretch into some new synapses……….

In December, we are being visited from the US by Dr Deah Schwartz. Dr Deah will be facilitating her one-of-a-kind workshop on Expressive Arts and Body Dissatisfaction in Melbourne and Sydney. Heads up: if you work with women (and increasingly so men) in your practice, you work with body dissatisfaction.

Even if you don’t have the scope to use Expressive Arts with your clients, or see few clients with Eating Disorders, this workshop will have great value as an opportunity to step outside your silo, try on some different intelligences and ‘press refresh’ at a time of the year when we are all looking to have a bit of fun at work.

As an attendee of Dr Deah’s workshop, you can look forward to being encouraged to:
• Inform, affirm and extend your HAES®/non-diet knowledge
• Play, listen to stories, create and have some good laughs with some different intelligences
• Network with people who have similar curiosities as you about the status quo
• Develop insights about yourself and your own body relationship

Deah is a very special Health Professional. A prolific writer, performer, artist and courageous woman who has worked tirelessly for the HAES® community to spread common sense and empowerment with wit and creativity. You can watch Dr Deah performing on stage HERE.

About the Author

Tara MacGregor is an APD, PACFA Registered Counsellor & Psychotherapist and member of MINT (Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers). Tara manages a private practice in Sydney and is owner and operator of a counselling skills training service for Health Professionals who work with behaviour change. Read more about Tara here.

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