I walked into Room Four of the APS unit on Monday and introduced myself to Ingrid, a twenty-eight year old female waiting to be assessed for possible readmission to the in-patient care facility upstairs at UMDNJ. I introduced myself in my customary manner, and asked her permission to sit down and talk with her. She appeared happy to see me and gestured for me to sit on the chair by her bed. I sat down and asked her my basic opening question, “What reason brings you here?” I then calmly waited to hear her response. She talked about her circumstances and I used my reflective responses to keep the conversation going in a very relaxed manner.
When I was sure we had developed a positive connection, I asked her if she would be willing to help me with a school assignment. I went on to explain the difficulties I was having with this assignment because I didn’t know any service users to interview since our unit had not yet opened. I also confessed that my assignment was due Wednesday and I was in deep do-do. She laughed at my expression and said that she would be happy to “save” me.
I began the interview by asking her why she was here and how she hoped it would benefit her. She responded by telling me that this was her second time at APS in the past three weeks. She further explained that the first time she’d been admitted upstairs for three weeks, and then they released her to live with her father and mother in-law. She said that her first stay here was because she was deeply depressed and had thoughts of suicide after she’d broken up with her abusive live-in lover.
At this point she became emotionally upset and reached for a tissue to wipe away her tears. I responded by saying, “You feel upset.” She continued to cry, and when she’d gathered enough control, told me that her father and step-mother had thrown her out of their house shortly after she’d left her boyfriend and moved in with them. They told her she could not come back until she was stable. She told me that her step-mother did not like her because her unstable behavior and constant pacing kept the step-mother up at night. Ingrid then told me she was here now because her dad brought her.
Knowing how she got involved with APS, I asked her what she saw as the primary benefit of being here. She told me she needed to learn coping skills, stabilize on her medication, and get support from people who did not have ulterior motives. Ingrid then went in a direction that made me extremely uncomfortable. She steered the conversation toward her sexuality. She talked about wanting to kiss other girls. Using my blocking skills, I interrupted her stream of thought by saying, “So what I am hearing is that you want to be here so you can begin your recovery.” Obviously, I did not feel educationally equipped to respond to either the ulterior motive or sexuality topic.
Ingrid and I then began to discuss her short and long term goals. She was quick to respond and emphatically said, “I want to become stable on my meds so I can move back with my dad and step-mom. I do not want to be homeless.” I responded by giving her positive affirmations and telling her that this was an excellent short term goal and that she was in the right place.
When we began to discuss her long term goals I noticed a shift in her body language. She stood up and eloquently discussed her goals. “I want to get out on my own, finish my senior year of college, get a job, and begin to live a normal life!” she said. Then as quickly as her mood had shifted previously, it happened again. She began to pace, and while doing so blurted out, “I want to go to small claims court and get the money back from my ex that he stole from me!” I reflected back by saying, “So what I am hearing is that you have specific obtainable goals and you want to become an adult.” She smiled at me, shook her head in affirmation, and said, “Yes, exactly.”
I was not able to obtain any files on Ingrid because the unit was transitioning into the night shift and no one had assessed her at this point.
Since I have not had the opportunity to experience or learn about the benefits of being admitted to the inpatient care unit at UMDNJ, I asked her what specific services she was hoping to learn upstairs that would help her obtain her short and long term goals. She talked about how the groups taught her coping skills, and she hoped the doctors could get her meds together.
I finished our encounter by thanking her for helping me out, and saying that I sincerely hoped she would continue in her recovery and obtain the wonderful goals she had set for herself. On my way out, I turned around one more time, smiled at her and said, “Ingrid, once again I want to thank you for saving me.”