“Cindy” first presented in my therapy office in a state of crisis – for years now she had been hearing and seeing “funny things” and couldn’t tell what was real.  Cindy showed me her cell phone and began telling me how it had been hacked into.  Cindy wasn’t sure who would hack her phone or for what purpose but she no longer felt it was safe to use it.  Cindy had similar stories to share about family members, feeling that they were somehow conspiring to hurt her.  Because of this, Cindy had become estranged from her family and homeless in an effort protect herself. Cindy was suffering greatly as she struggled to try to understand what was happening to her. She was scared, confused and looked at me with a mixture of hope that I could help her and suspicion that I was a threat to her.

In my initial meetings with Cindy we proceeded with great caution.  It took everything in Cindy’s, and my, power for her to remain in the room with me and talk given her paranoia.  My first goals with her were to assess for safety and build the beginnings of a trusting relationship. Without that, talking to Cindy about psychosis would be difficult and encouraging her to have a medication evaluation impossible.   However, within a few meetings, Cindy began to be more open to me and my suggestions that she has a psychotic disorder and would feel much better with medications.

Fast forward 3 months.  Cindy did agree to be evaluated and has been taking medications regularly.  As her thinking has become clearer, Cindy is beginning to reconnect with family members and other natural supports in her life.  She has moved in with a sister and, according to her sister, is talking about a future for the first time in many years.  Cindy has connected with other services at St. Martin’s as she begins the long but rewarding process of building a life worth living.