Work on the psychiatry ward had been especially challenging all week for numerous and complex reasons. On one particular day, I did my work and anxiously waited for the day to be over. Usually the treatment teams assess new patients in the morning, but sometimes, on a bad day, in the early afternoon. That day we saw a patient at three o’clock—extremely late. My patient appeared sad. He looked like he might cry but informed us he felt “just fine.” I wasn’t buying it.
After completing the assessment with the team, instead of rushing to my office to dash off a chart note and quickly exit for the day, I met with him privately for about fifteen minutes. We discussed the things he’d not been ready to talk about in the larger meeting. He wiped away tears as we parted, and observed, “You must be very good at your job.” I felt I’d reached him in a fundamental way that I hoped would be helpful. Focusing on my patient, offering my best to him and having it accepted, healed many of my bad feelings from the week. He reminded me of what’s important to me. Through my efforts to help him, I restored myself. This is one of the many reasons I love being a social worker.