To give our readers a better sense of what an effective mental health treatment plan looks like, I have been recreating a treatment plan here through a series of blog posts. To see other posts in the Mental Health Treatment Plan series, please click here.
Life rolls on while you are in therapy and a myriad of events can occur. Suppose you got a DWI? Or suppose you were recovering from being a former member of a cult? Or maybe you had just faced a new challenge—you lost the use, heaven forbid, of your legs in a workplace accident? These and a myriad of other challenges should be noted in your mental health treatment plan since they are a significant current part of your life.
After nearly four months in therapy, Alexis was promoted! Very good news, indeed. She has managed the symptoms of her depression very well and has worked hard to forge better relationships with everyone, including her supervisor and coworkers. She has been moved into the public relations department, and now is learning how to write press releases and is assisting her new supervisor plan and set up important events.
One of the challenges of her new position is that it often requires heavy lifting—helping caterers set up events, arranging chairs, schlepping boxes. One day, as she was carrying a flower arrangement up some stairs, she slipped and fell backwards. She broke her fall with her wrist. A coworker took her to the E.R. where x-rays showed she had a torn a ligament in her wrist, which was severe enough to require surgery.
After surgery, Alexis required occupational therapy, which we noted in the treatment plan. Because her ability to do her job was very limited, Alexis’s boss asked her to take a leave of absence while her wrist recovered. Alexis was aware that being out of work would set her back in terms of managing the symptoms of her depression. I asked her if disclosing her depression and therapy would be helpful for her, and she agreed to sign a release giving me one-time permission to speak with her supervisor and her occupational therapist. We arranged a brief three-way phone conference while Alexis was in my office and explained her situation. We wanted to see if there were any creative solutions to keeping Alexis employed.
The occupational therapist told us that Alexis would regain almost full use of her wrist within 3-4 months, and though she should limit wrist movement right after surgery, she would be doing exercises within a few days to control pain and swelling. Then she would be given exercise to help her strengthen and stabilize the muscles around the wrist joint. It would, however, be impossible, temporarily, for her to type or carry anything that required two hands.
I explained to Alexis’s supervisor that it was important that Alexis keep her job while she was in therapy for depression. I suggested to her boss some alternatives to keep Alexis employed during this time. First, I asked if the budget would allow the purchase of voice to text software so Alexis could still write press releases. Next, I suggested that Alexis get more involved with the organizational aspects of the events—phoning clients and coordinating the services, meeting with clients to discuss the events in the early stages and using a tape recorder to record the interviews, and so on.
There are some schools of therapy that don’t ascribe to the idea of helping patients on a practical level, but I believe that helping a patient navigate real-life problems not only builds trust but can relieve or prevent suffering. Meanwhile, though we could have simply written another treatment plan on how to deal with the develop of Alexis’s torn ligament, we decided to create an “Other” section in her main treatment plan and set up that phone appointment—right away.
We will sum up our overview of the Mental Health Treatment Plan in an upcoming post.
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Last reviewed: 7 Apr 2010