The light blue door swings open, leading to the familiar office with the striped chairs. As she smiles and shakes your hand, the nervousness you felt preceding the appointment instantly vanishes with the comfort that comes with the familiarity of the doctor. “It’s good to see you!” she smiles with an outstretched hand. Having strong relationships with mental and physical health professionals can be a major influence in the development of teenagers.
“It’s all about trust and comfort,” said senior Charlotte Puscasiu, addressing the assets of a strong adult-adolescent relationship.
According to the National Institute of Health, trust is a key factor in a healthy doctor-patient relationship.
Puscasiu began trusting her doctor at the age of two, when Puscasiu’s house in Berkeley burned down and her neighbor, who is now her pediatrician, took her family in and helped them through the process.
“I can’t remember the details of the night my house burned down,” Puscasiu said. “But I do know that I have had a genuine trust in my doctor since a young age due to her natural tendencies to help and care for others.”
Puscasiu said that because she knows her doctor outside of her office and realm of profession, Puscasiu is able to find a stronger sense of trust and familiarity with her doctor, creating a stronger and healthier bond.
Junior Danny Garrett, who has undertaken 12 surgeries, has had a lot of experience with patient-doctor trust.
“When I go through surgeries I am literally putting my life in the hands of my doctors,” Garrett said. “I have to trust them.”
Garrett said that in seventh grade he developed a very strong relationship with his doctor, Dr. Lincoln, who performed three consecutive surgeries on him.
“Those surgeries were probably the toughest surgeries of my life because it’s bone reconstruction which is very difficult,” Garrett said.
Garrett said that Dr. Lincoln was always there for him, and will be someone he remembers for the rest of his life.
“I know that they’re trying to benefit me and aid me in the medical problems that I’m having,” Garrett said. “It’s tough, but trusting them has honestly made me a better person in allowing me to better trust my own friends and family.”
Clinical Psychologist Sara Brose said that it is crucial for adolescents to have healthy relationships with adults due to the various roles adults play in an adolescent’s life.
“It’s important for there to be trust in a patient-adult relationship and for a patient to trust that their therapist is there to help them,” Brose said.
Junior Maya Marcus, who has been seeing a therapist since seventh grade, said that trust and openness have been two crucial factors in her relationship with her therapist.
“It’s important to be honest and open with topics that are harder to talk about or things that are hard to hear,” Marcus said. “At the end of the day, therapists are there to help you; they know what they’re talking about.”
Marcus said that this openness can be crucial in any given relationship.
“If you’re not open with people in general, you’re more likely not going to get the response you want,” Marcus said.
Brose, who works with people of all ages, said that she feels a greater responsibility when working with adolescents because they are still in a developing stage.
“I think there is more room for influence in a teenager’s life,” Brose said. “And with that comes a greater sense of responsibility, to allow teenagers to develop on their own but also guide and support them in that development.”
Brose said that while parents are often the most influential adult figures for adolescents, having other adult mentors can be crucial.
“Adults can act as outlets for adolescents to learn about different ways of life, ways of being in the world and even [to help] understand different aspects of yourself that you may not have even known,” Brose said.
Puscaciu said that her doctor has been a major influence in the way that she treats both herself and others.
“My doctor carries a strength to her that is contagious,” Puscasiu said. “It’s reassuring to know someone who has experienced hardships yet still came out strong in the end.”
Puscasiu said that having a strong female figure in her life is inspirational because it gives her a role model.
“My doctor inspires me to better myself,” Puscaciu said. “Even outside of the office she is always finding ways to help and care for other people, which is a quality I aspire to have.”
Clinical Psychologist Ann Gildersleeve said that chemistry is a crucial factor in having a strong psychologist-patient relationship.
“It’s really important for clients to feel like you’re someone who ‘really gets them’ because if you don’t have that [in psychotherapy], it’s going to feel like a thorn in your side,” Gildersleeve said.
Gildersleeve said that a sense of comfort is another really important aspect in psychotherapy.
“That intangible sense of comfort is really important,” Gildersleeve said. “I use the spanish term: ‘simpatico’ for this sense of comfort.”
Garrett agrees that comfort is a really important factor that goes into his relationship with his doctors. He said that it’s cool talking to doctors about things other than health because it brings out a greater sense of comfort in a setting that is often uncomfortable.
“When I was in seventh grade, I was pretty nervous about a surgery so when I was going under general anesthesia I asked Dr. Lincoln to put on a song,” Garrett said. “He put on the song and we started having a conversation about the band and music and I began to feel more comfortable talking to him about things other than my health problems.”
Puscasiu said that having healthy relationships with adults has influenced her life in a positive way and she thinks those kinds of relationships are crucial for teens and kids to have.
“Because I have known my doctor for most of my life, the comfort she brings allows me to be my true self around her, which has ultimately guided me towards knowing how to feel comfortable and true around other people,” Puscasiu said.