This past year, I continued to have the honor to work with patients who struggle with chronic and complex difficulties ranging from physical pains to suicidal ideation and suicidal attempts. There is a common pattern I notice in patients who win in their care. The next couple blogs will be about their common characteristics.
The first characteristic is an absolute commitment to their well-being, and taking personal responsibility for what they can control.
Commitment involves two basic sets of decisions. The first set involves time and fiscal affairs. The patient must commit to their medically necessary therapeutic care by adjusting their schedules to prioritize treatment. The patient may need to adjust their lifestyles to pay for their care. This is the most basic set of commitments needed to create the context for their healthcare. The patient can only receive treatment during made-and-attended appointments.
The second set of decisions within the patient’s control involve everyday decisions to carry out the homework prescribed during the weekly treatment sessions. As a medical provider, I can provide therapeutic care and clinical interventions during the one-hour appointment. However, no medical professional can replace the patient’s maladaptive thoughts and emotions for the next- and ongoing-167 hours before the following appointment. The patient must commit to practicing the skills and using the resources they receive during direct care. This regular commitment makes the metaphorical-surgical-glue sticky: their new skills gain staying power.
Even for the most committed and responsible patient—-please do not assume that it comes easily. Commitment often needs motivational development and fine-tuning through therapeutic intervention. The patients with this characteristic verbalize and behaviorally demonstrate their willingness to go as far and deep as it takes to achieve their goals.
At times, some patients have family members and friends who are highly suspicious of the mental health field. This can be difficult for committed patients: It can make them feel alone and demoralized. If someone you love is receiving treatment, please encourage their efforts to make a change in their lives. You may be the only person in their corner.
Licensed Professional Counselor, EMDR Therapist, Certified Laughter Leader, Certified Dancing Mindfulness Facilitator, Certified PeaceLove CREATOR Facilitator