Growth requires time

I am looking forward to the fall term, particularly to the seminar program of my specialist trainees. This autumn we shall be discussing adolescent development. Understanding adolescent development, comprising its physical, cognitive, emotional, social and cultural aspects, is the cornerstone of adolescent psychiatry, and the very reason why adolescents need their own mental health services capable of assessing and treating the mental disorders in the context of the developmental needs and supporting the progress of adolescent development. I felt that my old program concerning these topics was not outdated but perhaps dull and not adequately focusing on the latest developments in research, so I have planned anew how we shall handle the topic and learn the most, and what materials we shall read. Lost in Medline again, I found a number of exciting new articles on for example identity development. Focusing on the development and consolidation of personality and identity is of outmost importance for those working with adolescent mental health, particularly now when international classifications of diseases are flirting with the idea of setting personality disorder diagnoses for minors in the middle of turbulent developmental phase. And I have also noticed that almost all discussions on gender identity are totally detached from research on identity at large.

So I have learned a lot, and also gained new viewpoints. This is what I most like in teaching: the teacher her/himself is challenged to learn more, in order to be able to inspire the students to learn. So rewarding!

The weather has been very displeasing for a holiday-maker this summer, but it has been very good for the garden. I am not at all clever in gardening, in fact I have great difficulties in distinguishing a desirable plants from weed, but I nevertheless like gardening and enjoy  flowers and the richness of green, the more the better. I would say that my gardening philosophy is to not disturb growth. Actually I can see a lot in common in adolescent psychiatry and gardening. Desirable, positive growth needs to be recognized, acknowledged, promoted and supported, and it needs to be given time. Harmful sprouts require intervention. My mentor, emerita chief psychiatrist Päivi Rantanen used to say that growth requires time. Not only the professionals in adolescent psychiatry can benefit of gardening metaphor, but also the adolescents themselves can gain a lot if insight to their own needs and development by caring for plants as an element of treatment relationship.

There is a Clematis in my garden that almost died last summer. It was practically only a brown tangle of rope. But there were green sprouts in some places. As there was still some life, I decided to cut away the brown string parts but let the tiny green growth have another opportunity. (That was quite a lot of cutting.)  I did not know how I should care for the plant, but I decided not to disturb it more. Now it thrives! It is at least tenfold more voluminous than last summer, if not twenty-fold. So do not disturb growth was a good guideline. (Beneficial circumstances = constant rain likely also helped a lot.)

In addition to looking forward to specialist training seminars, I am also looking forward to dance lessons that will start again next week. I have done quite of lot of exercises on pointe shoes by myself during summer, and also in this field it is so rewarding to notice that one can always learn more. I hope all this training will show positively in the ballet class!  I do not hear New York City Ballet calling for my talent, but never mind: pushing the limits further is a pleasure for myself.