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CSME|CAPDA Medico-Legal Summit - Dr. Joan Tucker
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The Humble Tiger, a Guide to Using Self Compassion in Returning to Work After Mental Health Disability
Dr. Joan Tucker, MD FRCPC

The Humble Tiger is a workbook designed to offer practical strategies in returning to work after mental health disability. Through my own experience of healing from a major poly- trauma, coupled with my longtime experience of assessing disability claims and assessing impaired individuals, I created a workbook designed to put the healing back into healthcare.

“The Humble Tiger” is a Buddhist term, which serves as a metaphor for embracing strength and courage, even in the face of our most frightened moments. Healing from any medical crisis is precisely that challenge; we experience fear and despair. Rather than shy away from those feeling states, we lean in, so that our courage unfolds from our deeper strength. We embrace humility and compassion for others, and ourselves as we delve into the work of healing.

The Humble Tiger is divided into 9 chapters, each offering the building blocks of physical, emotional and spiritual well being. . It begins with “ Building our Foundation”, where we are asked to secure a “lifeliner”, an individual who will help us with the practical strategies of setting goals and appointments, and keeping us on track when our concentration or focus may wane. The absence of a dedicated lifeliner is a signal that we need to repair our foundation. A weak foundation will not sustain the challenge of true healing.

I have included a modified Cognitive Behavior Tool, entitled a “ moodminder”. These pages allow us to record our negative and positive thoughts, as well as our moments of gratitude and our acts of charity. Sleep and appetite, the typical harbingers of emotional disorder are recorded as well. We reward ourselves daily for our slightest efforts, gradually availing ourselves of the idea that we are our own deepest healers.

All of the psychosocial aspects of mental health are addressed in a soft but targeted way. We are asked to carefully examine our financial life. We are encouraged to explore meditation, gentle movement, and community connection. “ Helping my doctor to tell my story” is essentially a dialogue between patient and doctor, where we take responsibility for precisely describing which symptoms prevent us from doing our job. This allows the treating clinician to complete insurance forms with clarity. Finally, all of the various factors which contribute to Occupational Conflict, a seriously overlooked area of workplace absenteeism, are carefully examined. Strategies for managing occupational conflict are offered.

A sense of wonder is identified as a fundamental strategy in embracing wellness. The Humble Tiger is stunningly illustrated by David Brady, an American artist with a keen sensitivity to the emotional impact of mental health difficulty. David’s art speaks volumes about the beauty of the human condition, even in the face of its most profound challenges. We cannot help but sink into the pages of the Humble Tiger, as the artwork offers a visual odyssey, which soothes the soul.

The reader is encouraged to register at as my personal project takes further shape. I am hoping to include podcasts, blogs, and other workbooks in the future, and would like to include members of CSME in the development.

I am so grateful for the warm reception this work has received.

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