Q&A with DH’s Admissions Counselor, Robert Norris, MS
Q: How do you reassure someone who is struggling and seeking help?
There is not a simple answer to this question. Everyone arrives to treatment with similar issues, yet each person is an individual presenting with their own unique set of struggles. When someone first arrives to treatment, I feel like one of the most important things to do is validate their feelings and reassure them they have made a good decision to seek help.
Q: How do you handle someone reluctant to get treatment?
Most are reluctant and few are willing to admit to treatment. I have found the best approach is to meet the client where they are at in terms of ambivalence. You will not change an individual’s mind by arguing or trying to convince them that treatment is the best option. However, by approaching the individual with an empathetic and non-judgmental manner you can hopefully break down their guard long enough for them to make an agreement to give treatment a chance. Upon someone’s initial arrival to treatment, I try to discover what motivates them. If they can identify an external motivator, this might help giving them an reason to agree to treatment. I am a firm believer in a person needs to want treatment for themselves and no one else however, finding an external motivator is sometimes helpful in the beginning.
Q: What advice for success would you give someone who is getting ready for rehab?
I would say that to keep an open mind and become willing to listen. I tell many client who admit that they should be excited. This could be the beginning of a whole new way of life.
Q: What are the steps they need to take and how do you guide them through it?
Since admitting to treatment can be overwhelming, our admissions team provides assistance with every step of the process. Our admissions team will arrange travel plans, let them know what items they will need, and pick them up from the airport (or locally) if necessary. Many individual will require time off from their job, so after admitting our case managers will contact employers to provide a presence in treatment letter or to initiate FMLA.
Q: What is something about DH that you wish families of those seeking treatment knew?
First and foremost, I believe it is the staff that makes Destination Hope so special. From the Behavioral Health Technicians to the CEO, we are comprised of caring individuals who have a passion for helping those seeking treatment.
Q: How do you determine which level of care a new client needs?
We get an idea of what level of care a person might be appropriate for from the ladies in the admissions department who always conduct an over-the-phone assessment prior to their arrival. After they arrive to treatment, I conduct an initial assessment along with our psychiatrist who evaluates them as well. Based on how they are presenting and their ability to function independently along with several other factors determines their level of care.
Q: What qualities make someone an effective admissions counselor?
I believe one of my biggest strengths that make me an effective admissions counselor is the patience and empathy I show to every client who admits. I try to give these individuals a sense of control, as many of them feel like they have had no control over their mental health issues or addiction. I accomplish this by remaining flexible when I am able to throughout the admissions process.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
This question is the easiest for me to answer. The most rewarding aspect of this job is the fact I am able to see people go from being beaten and broken to full of renewed hopefulness for their future. Although my primary role is as an admissions counselor, I also run groups and interact with the clients on a daily basis. Through this interaction, I am able to see the light turn back on in their eyes. It’s magical.
Q: And the most difficult?
The most difficult is hearing through the grapevine about people who do not make it. The sad reality is the relapse rate is very high for those using narcotics and not everyone achieves recovery.
Q: You’ve seen many transformations. What do you feel is the most important factor in a successful outcome for patients?
As I had mentioned above, I think the single most important thing is the willingness to change for YOURSELF and no one else.
Q: And, in your opinion, what do clients appreciate most about DH after discharge?
I think the thing most former clients appreciate about Destination Hope was that someone was there to believe in them even though they didn’t believe in themselves.