Written By Guest Blogger: Emilie Christensen
I first met Dr. Bob Sanet on the dance floor at the 2013 Annual COVD meeting in Florida. I had been waiting all week to get a chance to introduce myself so I took the opportunity when I saw him in conversational transition (he’s not an easy one to find alone). After a heartfelt hug and exchanging brief “Nice to meet you” he quickly wanted to get back to moving and grooving, could I blame him? The group had just welcomed a new class of COVT and FCOVD graduates and it was the last evening of the meeting. Spirits were high and everyone was feeling the music.
I couldn’t have asked for a better first COVD experience. By the end of the weekend I was definitely starting to grasp the feeling of “family” that everyone had been talking about. There’s just something about meeting people with whom you share a career and a passion with and can understand the ins and outs of daily work, both good and bad. So when the opportunity arose to take Dr. Sanet’s five part seminar series a few months later, I was very excited. Although I was finally starting to feel comfortable working with patients of my own, I still knew that I had so much ahead of me to learn. COVD had just scratched the surface and going through the pre-meeting course had already opened my eyes so much to all of the potential my career had to offer as a vision therapist. The five part PAVE-Sanet seminar series takes place over the course of 10 months and each three day weekend is spent on a different topic teaching participants, “The How and Why of Vision Therapy: Practical Teachings and Hands-On VT Techniques”.
In addition to taking the seminar myself my FCOVD Doctor (aka my mother and employer) had also decided to take the course. She has been practicing since 1983 and received her FCOVD in 1989 yet seemed just as excited as I was to attend, as we both wanted to build the vision therapy practice together. Walking in the first day of seminar in January I was greeted by another hug by Dr. Sanet. I realized I had only begun to see the enthusiasm and excitement for life that this man has.
The Sanet seminar began with introductions. I was surprised to meet people from all over the USA, plus Canada and Mexico. Not only had I connected with therapists across the country at COVD, I was meeting people from other countries as well. This was one of the best parts of the experience. Attending the with the same group of people at every seminar allowed us to bond and form friendships over the next few months that I’m sure will carry into the years to come. I was lucky enough to live in the hosting city, but seeing people come from all over to participate was so stimulating. The seminar attendees included experienced certified optometric vision therapists, vision therapists who had yet to work with any patients, Optometrists new to vision therapy and those who had been doing vision therapy for over 30 years. Working as the only vision therapist in a practice with one doctor, it was refreshing to have more than 40 new acquaintances that were just as motivated and excited to partake in the learning experience. I felt excited, encouraged and motivated after each three day seminar weekend.
After the first seminar I was energized and very excited to return to work, I began modifying and refining some of the processes and techniques in our office and felt immediate positive feedback from my patients. Because of what I learned in the seminars my confidence in working with patients grew exponentially and I felt that confidence transfer to my patients. I found myself giving them the opportunity to respond and react and discover for themselves what their own potential was. I started working more on the quality of each procedure performed and watching the patient as a whole, playing to their individual strengths and keeping in mind their weaknesses for when they needed assistance. While I had always been aware of making sure I wasn’t “wasting” a parents (or the office’s) time or money, I realized that spending an entire visit on attribute blocks and seeing the patient walk out with a brilliant new attitude was absolutely okay! Doing five activities just to get through them while rushed for time wasn’t helping me as a therapist or the patient to achieve their goals.
The seminars on more complex cases (Amblyopia, Strabismus, TBI etc.) were also priceless in their content and ability to take a topic that had previously overwhelmed me and break it down into more manageable and understandable concepts. The same mindset of approaching the whole patient as opposed to focusing on their specific diagnosis made for a better experience for both me and my patient.
When I first began as a vision therapist, I was so worried that I would mess up or do the wrong procedures. What I came to realize over the past year is so different from my initial worries. Everyone is different. Different ways of learning, different ways of thinking, different ways of expressing themselves and there is (more or less) no wrong way to help someone. It’s not our job to just teach procedures by encouraging repetition and then expect results. It’s our job to give our patients strategies, open up different perspectives, and truly help people grasp their potential. Dr. Sanet taught me that we sometimes don’t have all the answers but it is our job to arrange the conditions so that learning is possible. With positive intention and an enthusiasm for life, it is truly possible to make a difference in someone’s life. Dr. Sanet has indeed touched my life and I look forward to passing on the knowledge and guidance I have gained.
If anyone is interested in learning more about Dr. Sanet’s seminar, you can request information at firstname.lastname@example.org