A multidisciplinary approach comprises a team of professionals, usually health care workers, who come from various disciplines with each member providing a specific service to clients (Huljev & Pandak, 2016). Professionals may independently see to and treat various issues a client may have, depending on the professional’s specialisation (ibid.). All team members work towards and share specific aims, goals and values, apart from offering the best possible service to clients to ensure the best possible outcomes (Mental Health Commission, 2006).
Therefore, we can say that a multidisciplinary approach embodies both a holistic and a team approach (Huljev & Pandak, 2016). The Willingness Team is in fact a team which takes on a multidisciplinary approach.
The multidisciplinary approach has it’s own advantages and benefits for professionals and clients alike. Below are 5 main ways in which a multidisciplinary approach benefits clients and their needs.
- It caters for several clients with different and various needs
A multidisciplinary approach offers various services and resources to a range of clients with different backgrounds, experiences and issues (Mental Health Commission, 2006). Professionals working withing a multidisciplinary approach come from various disciplines, and professionals may include psychologists, psychotherapists, counsellors, doctors, and psychiatrists. Through an Intake process, an individualized care plan is drawn up for each client, in which the client’s needs and goals are identified (Huljev & Pandak, 2016; MST Services, 2018). The client is then referred to the corresponding professionals who will work together towards the specific established goals (Huljev & Pandak, 2016). Clients too may choose to receive particular services. Some clients may have complex needs which may require the different skills of different professionals (Mental Health Commission, 2006).
For instance, the Willingness Team takes on a multidisiplinary approach and offers a variety of services including individual, couples and family therapy, sex and relationship therapy, integrative counselling, psychological assessments, cognitive behavioural therapy, child psychology, educational psychology, counselling for families going through illness, gestalt psychotherapy, career guidance, life coaching, parent coaching and consultations, psycho-sexual education sessions, physiotherapy, gynaecological services and genito-urinary services, sexual health services through Sex Clinic Malta, Childminders by Willingness, and also other psycho-educational activities.
2. The Holistic Approach
Multidisciplinary approaches take on a holistic approach which, according to Huljev & Pandak (2016), aims to look at and care for the whole person, rather than just the symptoms of a situation or disease. It takes into account the physical, psychological, social, cultural, intellectual, emotional and spiritual factors of a person (Huljev & Pandak, 2016). Therefore, this approach does not solely attempt to alleviate symptoms, but rather to explore what is causing this and address the roots of the problem (MST Services, 2018). This process takes into account the individual’s past experiences, interactions with the environment, and the effects of family, school, work, peers, relationships and community on this individual. Once the client’s needs and goals are established, they can then be taken care of by different professionals in the multidisciplinary team (Mental Health Commission, 2006).
3. Efficiency and Continuity of Care
Multidisciplinary approaches can be considered to be efficient for clients as firstly, the point of contact is usually one team or organisation which offers a variety of services. Thus, if a client needs to be referred to professionals for specific services, the client is already given access to a range of other services within the multidisciplinary team itself (Gaille, 2018). If the team or organization does not directly offer the service, it is most likely that they themselves can refer the client to other professionals or organizations which are trusted and which work alongside them. This contributes to a speedy referral process which leads to minimized delays (ibid.), less time searching for the right professionals, planning, scheduling and driving around. Furthermore, this also indicates continuity of care, whereby care is offered and given from different perspectives, progress is monitored, access to needed services or professionals is facilitated, and any transitions needed can be facilitated too (Haggerty, Reid, Freeman, Starfield, Adair & McKendry, 2003).
4. It allows clients to create goals for themselves
In a multidisciplinary approach, clients are given the opportunity to create goals for themselves (Gaille, 2018). Such goals motivate the client to work towards achieving their desired outcomes. Furthermore, such goals help the professional to familiarize themselves with what the client would like to achieve, thus in turn providing the client with the best possible service to achieve such goals. Through the process, clients are also given the opportunity to revisit these goals and with the professional, these goals can be discussed and amended if needed.
5. Improved Outcomes and Satisfaction
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (as cited in Huljev & Pandak, 2016), different professionals who actively collaborate and work together with the aim of clearly addressing the needs of clients and the community, not only strengthened health systems, but also enhanced clinical and health related outcomes. Lastly, with improved outcomes, clients gain increased satisfaction as they are being treated and cared for holistically and effectively (Benefits of Multidisciplinary Care Teams for Patients, 2020).
Michela Aquilina is a trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist who is currently reading for a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy and working as a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist with Willingness Team. Michela offers therapy to young adults and adults who are experiencing various challenges and issues relating to mental health and psychosocial, emotional wellbeing.
Benefits of multidisciplinary care teams for patients. (2020). Healthie. Retrieved from: https://blog.gethealthie.com/2020/09/04/benefits-of-multidisciplinary-care-teams-for-patients/
Gaille, B. (2018).11 multidisciplinary team advantages and disadvantages. Retrieved from: https://brandongaille.com/11-multidisciplinary-team-advantages-and-disadvantages/
Haggerty, J. L., Reid, R. J., Freeman, G. K., Starfield, B. H., Adair, C. E., & McKendry, R. (2003). Continuity of care: a multidisciplinary review. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 327(7425), 1219–1221. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.327.7425.1219
Huljev, D. & Pandak, T. (2016). Holistic and team approach in health care. Signa Vitae, 11(Suppl 2), 66-69. Retrieved from: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5721/e28562adca8ab2886c5c048870dfbd21da5d.pdf
MST Services (2018). The holistic approach to mental health. Retrieved from: https://info.mstservices.com/blog/holistic-mental-health
Mental Health Commission (2006). Multidisciplinary team working: From theory to practice. Retrieved from: https://www.mhcirl.ie/file/discusspapmultiteam.pdf