The internal and external stresses associated with a physician’s life often affect the family. When the physician is abusing drugs or alcohol, the pressures are magnified. There may be long hours, emotional isolation, excessive devotion to medicine, pressures from regulatory agencies, threats or reality of liability suits, complacency about physical health, spending sprees, infidelity, eating disorders and sleep disturbances.(See Table 1, page 6, for other possible stressors for the family.) De Novo (a Latin phrase meaning new beginning) was instituted to provide a compassionate and confidential support system for spouses and adult children of participants in the Missouri Physicians Health Program. De Novo provides an opportunity for them to understand and overcome the stresses associated with having a spouse or significant other in treatment and recovery. De Novo consists of monthly support group meetings during which participants can unburden themselves in a confidential and secure environment with individuals experiencing similar stresses. Over time, the new insights attained, the new understanding forged, the new relationships built, and the new strengths gained can lead to a new approach to life and new hope for a healthier future.
De Novo offers family members who are in distress an opportunity to heal. Initially, the family member receives a cost-free, individual consultation with a De Novo mental health care professional. Subsequently, they may participate in monthly support group meetings with other members of medical families. Often, those close to a physician are reluctant to participate in a more public arena such as Al-Anon, due to the possibility that there may be a patient of the physician in attendance. De Novo provides confidentiality, a safe environment, and a strong sense of personal security. If therapy is desired or required, assistance in identifying mental health professionals is provided.
De Novo Locations
In St. Louis the facilitator for De Novo is Sherry McNamara who can be reached at 314-707-5059. The Columbia contact person is Mary Flanagan @ 573-429-6106. By fall of 2009, our new Kansas City group will be starting. If you are interested in this group, please contact Mary Fahey, MPHP Clinical Coordinator, at 314-578-9574.
New members are welcome in all groups. The members are the strength of the program as they support each other and are available to share their experiences and their own recovery