In order to “graduate” from the outpatient psychiatric program of Laurel Hospital in Maryland, we had demonstrate a certain level of competence at assertion skills or confrontation. It’s no wonder why it took me three times longer to be discharged than the other patients.
One day an older woman sat in the middle of the circle. She looked very tired and drained. Her daughter had been dumping her kids off at her door in the morning and leaving them with her until late in the evening. Since the woman was battling different medical conditions, this was very difficult on her health, and prevented her from getting the rest she needed to recover.
“Take these kids,” the nurse said to the woman and pressed on her shoulder.
The woman didn’t say anything.
“What do you say?” the nurse prompted her.
“I won’t be home until late tonight,” the nurse said and pressed both of her hands on the woman’s shoulder.
“Ouch,” she said to the nurse.
“I’m not going to stop until you learn how to assert yourself,” the nurse said.
It took four physical movements for her to finally get it, and then she said, “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to take the kids today. I need some time to recover.”
“Good for you!” said the nurse and we all clapped.