This was by far my favourite lab this semester. From all the knowledge we have attained in mental health over the semester, I was able to apply it and witness it live during the CEC interviews. The best way to learn is by actually ‘doing’. I have learned that mental health patients may benefit from a time use journal. I have heard and read again and again that individual’s with mental disorders may have a lack of a schedule. Despite understanding this, I was quite thrown off when my volunteer told me that he/she really didn’t do much during the day. The volunteer also had flat affect and as an interviewer I had to push aside the ‘social norms’ we may expect people to respond and continue asking my questions. My partner and I used the Engagement in Meaningful Activities Survey (EMAS) as well as an activities check list.
From my interview, I discovered that some people may benefit from structured questions, and some people may benefit from an unstructured, casual interview. Though, I had to explore and experiment with the EMAS, I did not find it very helpful in my experience with this particular volunteer. One of the questions at the end of the EMAS asks, “Which of these activities make you feel good about yourself? Choose the top 3”. First off, my volunteer was very blunt and told me that the activities he/she partakes in are more obligations and means of survival versus enjoyment. He/she also didn’t have 3 activities he/she participated in so this question I found to be quite restrictive. I was able to re-word the questions to better suit the circumstance and volunteer, but if I had to choose how I would interact with this person, it would not be through this method. Though the volunteer claimed to find little pleasure in daily activities, after veering into a more casual conversation, my partner and I were able to discover that he/she did in fact find enjoyment in various activities. He/she even admitted that he/she does have a desire to do activities and that he/she wants to enjoy them, but it is his/her own personal barriers in life that restrain him from doing so. I believe that more structured interviews would be beneficial for those who find difficulty in expressing themselves but unstructured interviews allow for more rapport and a stronger therapeutic relationship.