Is transdisciplinarianism a real word? First, let’s see what it means.

The 20th Century brought us many great things. And many challenges. The Newtonian physical theories of both the very large and very small were supplanted by General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. Nuclear technology revolutionized everything from medicine to power generation to war and peace. Aviation and the automobile transformed travel. Computers have transformed most everything from navigation to entertainment.

Science, technology, and information processing drove material progress and had profound social implications and enormous cultural influence. One of the most unfortunate takeaways of this progress was reductionism—the idea that problems could be solved by reducing them to their most basic constituents.

That perspective was often adopted in healthcare. Specialization dominated. Practitioners isolated symptoms, minimized the domain of interest, and treated. Specialists even specialized within specialties. This was further challenged by a medical model that shifted from health and healing to symptomatic diagnosis and characterization and long term pharmacological intervention.

There was the all too true cliché of seeing clients as personifications of their symptoms. Patients referred to by their issues: “Send in the broken arm.” “When am I scheduled to see the bowel obstruction.” I cringe when I hear someone referred to as a “special needs child.” To me, it is a child with special needs or better, a child with differences.

It’s not political correctness, rhetoric, or semantics. It’s fundamental. We must see the child as a unique holistic human being with differences from typical development that inhibit his or her ability to engage the world, to know themselves and feel good about themselves. We must treat the whole child.

And to treat a child holistically, we a need a single integrated plan of care. The services provided must be driven and defined by the unique needs of the child.

So, how do we do that when there are increasing modalities to learn? more and more knowledge necessary to successfully treat the children we see?

It’s by continuing to learn and work as a team. It’s by meeting every day as a team and remaining focused on the unique needs of the child.

That’s transdisciplinarianism: The perspective, belief, and practice that informed treatment must optimally focus on and respond to the holistic needs of the individual and multiple disciplines are combined, integrated, and harmonized for maximum benefit.

Our practice believes so strongly in this approach that we meet as a team one hour every day. Every day. Each child we see requires, deserves, and receives the benefit of our collective expertise. Each child.

Okay, transdisciplinarianism is not a real word yet. I have faith that will become one. In fact, I just added it to my spelling checker dictionary.

What do you think?