I ask all my clients to complete a short questionnaire at every session, indicating how that last week had been. This is the recovery experience of Isobel – who scored the highest (ie the most distressed) of any client I have ever seen, in over six years of measuring client’s mental and emotional state. At that first session she appeared to be on the verge of extinction.
Listen to this Thirteenth Audio of the “Client Stories” series and you can also read the accompanying blog post.
Listen/download to my audio: Isobel was drowning, on the verge of extinction
Read my Depression Help Blog post: Isobel was drowning, on the verge of extinction
1: Donald’s story of depression creeping up
Audio 2: Experience of Padma and Roberta
Audio 3: Trevor’s recovery from fear of depression
Audio 4: Tricia’s depression recovery
Audio 5: Mike’s reset following retirement
Audio 6: Norman failed by the NHS
Audio 7: Barbara and Ros resetting
Audio 8: Harold’s Diagnosis
Audio 9: Freddie’s failure
Audio 10: Rosanna’s suicidal thoughts and recovery
Audio 11: Fiona’s isolation and stigma
Audio 12: Vernon and Kate – self confidence was the problem
Audio 13: Isobel on the verge of extinction
Audio 14: Rachel on the verge of extinction
Isobel’s (not her real name), CORE score at that first session was 38 – the highest by far that I have ever come across and much higher than I was expecting. She seemed to be drowning, on the verge of extinction.
I ask all my clients at every session of therapy to complete a CORE 10 form, which measures their emotional health over the previous week – that I have come to trust to be reliable. There are ten questions, and each is scored from zero to four, depending on the distress indicated by each question (not at all, occasional, sometimes, all the time). The maximum theoretical score is therefore 40 (10 times 4) which would be an indicator of permanent distress, covering experiences of panic, anxiety, isolation, bad sleep, suicidal thoughts and so on. A score approaching 30 is quite rare in my experience and indicates severe distress, while any score over 25 is a red alert. Before Isobel, the highest score I had come across was 34 and I had found that scores at that level or slightly less related to clients enduring addictions. See my evidence.
As is normal at a first session with a depressed client I only spent a little time asking Isobel about herself. I ascertained though that her waking up time in the morning was agonising for her but that she had just moved into shared accommodation where for the first time for a long time she felt it might be good for her. She also revealed in passing that she was a dress designer and gave a hint that she might be talented and that she revelled in her creativity. The other thing I got then was her determination to stand on her own feet and her ambition – now horribly thwarted for three years.
And then I normalised like mad – with the objective that she should begin to understand her situation less catastrophically and personally and so begin to worry less and get some energy back by dreaming less. I also emphasised that we would leave her problems to one side until she was feeling better. I urged her to listen to my Depression Mp3.
At our final session, a fortnight later she was flying. She scored nine – an indicator of solid emotional health. And at that session I de-traumatised some remaining residual fears around the horror of her depression returning. She emailed me the next day to say that she felt that I had literally saved her life. And perhaps the truth is that I had.