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[Form Update] Psychology 101: The Basics of Shrinkin'


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This is a short guide on how to approach the role of Psychiatrist or Psychologist. Firstly, I must mention that I am not a mental health expert, and the people playing this role likely are not, either. If you are, good job! Thank you for your real life work and for bringing your expertise to Aurora! This guide will go over the very basics and how you should approach a round, starting from:

1. Know the difference.

There is a very important difference between the two available roles, Psychiatrist and Psychologist. Understand what it is before starting as the wrong specialist. Psychiatrists are the ones who diagnose mental illnesses, prescribe medication, provide advanced therapy methods and handle serious conditions. Psychologists are not authorized to prescribe medication, and only really handle basic conditions and issues. You will not see a Psychologist conversing with a man strapped to a chair with a straitjacket, that's some serious psychiatric work. If you would like a quick way to understand the difference, Psychiatrists are professional, full-time airline pilots, while Psychologists are hobbyist Cessna owners: they both know how flying works, one is just trained to handle bigger planes. That does not mean they are useless. Every gear in the complex medical machine is there for a reason. Furthermore, the difference in-game is often blurred, so try to keep to your specialty as much as you can.

2. Understand your role.

You are part of the Medical Department, working in the Medical Bay. Great! Sit down. You are not a surgeon, or an EMT, you are a mental health expert. Once that Unathi is out of lifesaving surgery after the explosion in engineering, that's when you step in to talk about how they feel about it. Medical frequently suffers from Idle Player Syndrome, whereas Medical players will sit in the reception until a situation occurs; for you, this applies even more. Most players do not bother considering their characters' possible psychological conditions or situations, and when they do, they are likely too busy to ask for a consultation, or forget about it. You will likely spend entire shifts staring at a wall. At most, if the department is empty, you may ask or be used as a local nurse, giving low-urgency patients bandages and lollipops while saying "there, there." Nothing more than that, though, unless your character is trained for it. However, you may also encounter situations you are not prepared for, and you may be the one that players decide to reveal a character's important backstory event to. You may have to face trauma you yourself have faced in real life. This role can be either empty and plain, or incredibly moving and important.

3. Respect the process and the field.

Mental health is a serious matter. This is not a debatable subject. You are working in one of the most complex, delicate, sensitive and arduous fields of medicine. There's a way to teach neurosurgery, there's no way to teach how to act when a patient reveals their trauma to you. Do not play around with mental health, do not say "teehee you might have PTSD," do not call someone out on the radio for having anger issues. That's a quick way to discredit yourself. Respect the privacy of records or receive a quick IR and be booted from the department. Furthermore, you are not suddenly a shaman who can say "hmm, you have severe antisocial personality disorder" because someone disobeyed an order. Act accordingly to your expertise, and respect how mental illnesses are diagnosed. You will not be able to point to a specific condition during your first consultation with someone, and you shouldn't anyway. The diagnosis of a mental illness includes a physical exam, laboratory testing, and a psychological evaluation. You will likely never diagnose anything in-game unless it's a long, multiple-round affair.

4. Know how to speak.

This is not something I can teach you. It has taken me years of learning and living to understand how to approach the topic of mental health. You will not learn how to speak and act like a professional with a YouTube video, however, I can give you some pointers:
- Firstly, the focus is not you: this may seem obvious, but keep the focus of the conversation to the patient.
- Discover with care: do not push if the patient doesn't feel comfortable giving, or they might isolate themselves or even lash out.
- Scout the problem: pay attention to every word, every movement and how the patient is behaving.
- Know the questions: "how do you feel" is a good, but basic question. How does this affect you? What makes the problem better? How do you deal with this problem?
- Write things down and keep an eye on the records of the patient.

5. Learn, learn, learn.

Before playing this role, learn the more common therapy methods, such as exposure therapy, CBT, interpersonal therapy. Do not be afraid to ask for help to your Chief Medical Officer, or admit that you are uncertain of the issue and you "must process what you've told me and meet another time." You may ask in LOOC for information, especially if you're tackling an important moment of the character's arc. Keep a Google tab open to research any conditions a patient may have, or check websites for symptoms, causes and solutions. In this case, Wikipedia is a reliable source. At the end of the day, you are likely not an expert, and the players know you are not. They probably do not expect you to be 100% accurate and flawless, however, you should aim for the best possible result. Do not rush things, and take it easy. You're always learning.

Personal Tips:

These are some of the things I do during a round, or how I prepare beforehand.
1. Check the library for books that may be useful and give them a read. I have saved some information gathered from them in a private Discord server that I keep on hand.
2. Prepare some tools of the trade. You receive three random plushies at the start of the round, but I carry a slime plushie from the loadout menu, since it's a very neutral and plain subject. People who are scared of monkeys or squids may not enjoy a monkey or squid plushie. I also carry knitting supplies, since knitting is a calm and patient hobby (beware for the needles in case of a known trigger), and a handkerchief for the occasional cry.
3. Scout the records preemptively: at the start of the round, check the records for any outstanding issues you should be worried about, and print those subjects' records. Keep them in a folder and give the noted issues a look online if you don't know what they are. If they are severe enough, inform the rest of the team over the radio or hold a small meeting to tell them (that's RP, baby).
4. Make yourself known: not many people even know that this role is available. Shoot out a radio message now and then, post on the Relay, post a news article, yell into the void. Eventually, the void will answer.
5. Have fun: you are playing a role that is HEAVILY RP. You will basically just talk to people. Have fun with it, invent new therapy methods, host lectures in the holodeck, scold the ninja and make them reveal the fact that their father left at the age of five through complex combat psychological methods. Be creative and everyone will have fun.

Finally, I'd like to mention once again, mental health is important. The character sitting at your desk is played by someone who may suffer from trauma they are projecting onto the character, in order to relieve some of the stress it causes them or relate more easily to the character. Within my second consultation with someone, I was faced with a patient telling me that they felt lonely, depressed, dragged into a pit that threatened to swallow them. That hit hard, and we both agreed in LOOC that we related to it. Take this role seriously and be proud of it. You may help convince someone to seek professional help, or alleviate some of their pain or stress through this medium.

Any professional inputs are highly appreciated and will be edited into this guide. Thank you for reading!

Psychological Evaluation Form.txt

Edited by Zulu0009
Touched up, added the form.
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  • Zulu0009 changed the title to [Form Update] Psychology 101: The Basics of Shrinkin'

Form Update!

Below I have attached a form I made, following the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services' format. It includes:
A. Information: basic information about the patient and you.
B. Clinical Interview: a couple of questions about the patient's history (attach the full record to this form for clarity).
C. Medical Source Statement: a series of statements based on work performance and how well the patient can do their job.
D. Mental Status Details: a series of mental health basics and whether they are within normal limits or not.
E. Diagnosis / Symptomps: list the symptoms or likely diagnosis based on the above.
F. Prognosis: list what should happen to the patient in your opinion.

Psychological Evaluation Form.txt

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