Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How Do You Help This Woman? (Part 1)

On my current Haiti trip, I was involved in doing training for a group of medical professionals.  One of the doctors scheduled for me to do a consultation with a woman whom she describes as depressed with flat affect, prior to my arrival. The doctor admitted that she'd seen many depressed patients in her years of practicing medicine but this woman's depression worried her.

Her appointment was scheduled for the day after my arrival.  I completed an informal assessment to discern if she was in fact depressed and what was the cause.

During our assessment, here's what I found and you tell me, how would you counsel this woman:

She's a 24 year old woman with a 4-month old who was with her during our meeting.  She is currently living at home with her mother and several half siblings who often degrade her and often tells her to move out. She grew up not knowing her father, he died before she even had an opportunity to get to know him.  She does not work because she can't find work.  Her previous job involved making cement blocks for a house that was being built.

She has no friends, she could not name one person she considered her best friend.  She was not connected to any social network to provide some level of support whether emotional or financial.

As she continued to share her challenges and struggles, I just had to ask about her child's father.  So I did: "tell me about your child's father"? To which she said: "he lives with another woman; they've been in a relationship for 13 years now.  The other woman is very kind to me, in fact she's my baby's god-mother.  We have a good relationship."

One of my final questions to her was: "what do you need?" Her reply: "I would like to have some money so I can move out and build a small house and have my own place."

Before I share with you how I counseled this woman; I would like to hear from you.  What you say or do to help this woman?  How do you counsel her?

Please refrain from passing judgement.  Put yourself in her shoes and try to see yourself as not so different from her.

What do you say?


  1. I think I'd just offer my shoulder, encourage her to do what she can to better her situation through education, by surrounding herself with people who value and love her, by holding her head high, and by relying on God to see her through. I'd let her know she's not alone.

    If she lived near one of our libraries, I'd send her there to develop her vocational skills AND to access the books we have in the areas of faith, self-help, and emotional well-being, not to mention to join with others in the pursuit of self-improvement!

  2. That's awesome Dana! You definitely hit the nail on its head. I will post tomorrow and you'll see how similar your response is to mine. Thank you posting.