Success Stories

Some of the many lives that have been changed through accessing services at Compass Health

  • Paul’s Story

    Paul has been coming to Compass Health for a little over a year. He came in very depressed, isolated, and was having frequent panic attacks. He was anxious about an upcoming court date regarding a DUI. Previously, Paul had received inpatient chemical dependency services, and at about the same time, his father committed suicide. Paul was the person who found his dad and experienced significant trauma reactions from this experience.

    Treatment at Compass has included individual sessions with our counselors. Mid-way through treatment, Paul decided to do jail time for his DUI. He made this decision in a very thought-out way—in sessions, he and his clinician spent a lot of time discussing how they could keep in contact (by letter) during his incarceration. They planned how he would be able to meet the legal requirements after finishing his time by identifying community resources for transportation and natural supports that would help him with the multiple appointments and services he needed to complete. By doing this, Paul and his clinician created a team of supporters who could wrap around him when the going got tough.

    Paul was also struggling with chronic pain from back problems, which directly affected his mood, his ability to support himself, as well as his self-esteem; he saw himself as a financial and emotional burden on others. He had surgery and was successful in resuming many physical activities, such as mowing the lawn and doing some odd jobs through a temp contracting agency.

    Counseling helped Paul reframe his self-image of being a burden by adopting the mantra of “I’ve done everything I can do,” and accept that not everything would go as planned, but that was ok. Another key component was helping him identify how his emotional drinking had affected him in the past and how drinking was used to deal with tough emotions he was struggling with. The Compass clinician also worked with Paul to develop a daily habit of making a ‘to-do’ list that outlined his goals, which reduced his anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed, and gave him direction and a sense of purpose. Paul has a particularly good coping skill of mowing and weed-whacking to help him calm down—as he puts it, “I’m going to be ‘chia-man’ today.”

    Currently, Paul is doing well. He is very good at self-reflection and can compare old unhealthy responses to new healthy coping skills that don’t involve alcohol. Paul and his clinician are working towards discharge.

    Particularly significant in Paul’s treatment has been the idea of harm reduction. He did some research on this concept outside of mental health counseling because he hadn’t experienced the approach of total abstinence in his court-ordered CD group to be entirely helpful.  He and his clinician at Compass had many meaningful conversations about how harm reduction could be used when he was coping with his anxiety, as well as a means to developing a more positive self-image.

  • Caleb's Story

    Dealing with the death of a spouse or child is one of the hardest things in life.  For some, their grief completely takes over and they turn to drugs or alcohol just to get through the day. Two years ago Caleb lost his wife. His grief and anger were so intense, that he started to use alcohol to cope with how he was feeling. It started with an occasional drink here and there, but this eventually turned into an addiction that took over Caleb’s life. As his life spiraled out of control, Caleb lost his job and later his housing. His only option was living on the street.


    After ending up in a detox unit, Caleb was transferred to Compass Health. The Compass Health team immediately scheduled him with a Compass Health clinician and helped Caleb get a primary care provider through one of our partners. We were able to help him secure income again through Peer Support, and we worked with Caleb to get a free cell phone through a low-income program. Caleb’s clinician worked with him to contact the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation so he could enroll in their services and work on finding a new job. Caleb came to the Triage Center at Compass Health to meet with the Opportunity Council to apply for their Homeless Services and Housing, scheduled an interview for Clean and Sober Housing, and was accepted to the Special Needs Unit at the mission.  For many, the road to recover can be a long and challenging one. Compass Health was able to use all of our internal resources available to help Caleb, and work with him on contacting resources to help him get back on his feet. Caleb is certainly well on his way, and Compass Health will be there with him every step of the way.

  • Jenny's Story

    Jenny was failing fourth grade, and was acting out her rage and grief.  Her father was in jail and her mother had lost her home.  Jenny was now living with her grandmother, Jenny’s grandmother brought her to Compass Health for help.

    After a few month's working with Jenny and getting her on track with her in therapy, Jenny's mother's condition detriorated and she ended up being taken to the local jail.  Mother and daughter both needed help.

    Our Compass Health clinician went to see Jenny’s mother and began to work with her.  She helped her work through some of her own issues and to look at her parenting and relationships in a more loving and realistic way.  Our clinician helped Jenny’s mother speak to her daughter in more appropriate ways; to tell her that she loved her and to let Jenny know that she wasn’t going to be able to take care of her at that time.  Jenny’s mother released her parental rights, making this personal sacrifice for the well-being of her daughter.

    Finally, Jenny was able to settle down into a good school routine, and she and her grandmother marked her adoption with a big celebration!  Mother and daughter are now busy living new stories, with more options for better endings.

  • John's Story

    When treating people with a Chemical Dependency, you can’t always measure success by the desire to go through treatment.  In some circumstances, you measure success by the ability to identify your addiction, to get sober, to use treatment tools to replace maladaptive behavior, and to work towards “a life worth living.” John fits this category.

    As years progressed, John’s enjoyment of the occasional beer with his friends increased into an addiction that he could not control or identify.  His drinking cost him friends, loved ones, and almost his life.  John ended up in the hospital after an accident involving alcohol which left him with a severe brain injury and a questionable future.

    After moving in with his parents, John resumed his alcohol consumption and started using drugs as a way to comfort his pain and bury his inner negative self-talk.  The brain injury that he experienced caused memory loss, concentration problems, and mood swings.  On top of that he was also having troubles quitting his addiction. Finally, John was given a court order for treatment after being arrested for running a stop sign while intoxicated.

    With support from his parents and primary care physician, John had a successful detox in a 21-day inpatient program. However, John came to Compass Health after his treatment angry and still drinking.  He was convinced that he could keep sobering up on his own and didn’t need Compass Health’s help.  He didn’t think his issue was as big as it was. Unfortunately, his drug screening showed that he was continuing to abuse drugs and alcohol.

    John’s counselor got him involved with the Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP).  Once John’s counselor gave him the ‘okay’ -- John began treatment.  Through this program, John learned ways to work with emotional regulation, mindfulness training, interpersonal effectiveness, and distress tolerance.

    John has been clean and sober for almost two years.  He boasts about being addiction free. “I quit alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and sugar,” John comments. More amazing is how John is now able to address challenges with his traumatic brain injury.  He has a full time job, many friends, and goals and dreams. His smile is addictive, his eyes sparkle, and he is open to sharing his journey.

  • Margaret’s Story

    Margaret, a 59-year old woman, came down from Alaska to Washington to be with her daughter following the death of her husband.  For several months Margaret reportedly had been disorganized, confused, and had suffered injuries.  She was wandering off and getting lost in the community.

    Adult Protective Services and Home and Community Services became involved and worked to identify appropriate housing and treatment.  When Margaret’s issues returned she was taken to the emergency room.  She required involuntary hospitalization and was admitted to the Compass Health - Evaluation & Treatment Facility in Mukilteo where she was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Dementia.

    Margaret did not initially engage in her treatment,  but with the help of her daughter, she was encouraged to follow through with her treatment.  She continued to struggle to understand why she was detained and could not live independently.  Eventually she began to connect with staff and peers, attend groups, and take her medications.

    After Margaret stabilized, she was discharged to an assisted living facility. However, after changes were made to her medication, many of Margaret’s previous symptoms returned and she was once again sent to the E&T.  Margaret’s crisis was challenging, but also provided her with opportunities for change and recovery.

    After readmission to Compass Health, Margaret quickly stabilized and adjusted to the routine at the E&T.  She became proactive in supporting staff and was often times referred to as “momma bear” by both the staff and her peers. Margaret’s sister from Oregon became increasingly involved in her treatment.  Margaret’s sister and brother-in-law offered to allow her to come live on their property in her own apartment.

    After discharge, Margaret’s sister has remained in contact with Compass Health, sending us pictures and updates on Margaret’s progress.  We are frequently reminded of how grateful they are to Compass Health for the care that her sister received while she was in Mukilteo.

    Margaret continues to follow her wellness plan.  She receives Medicaid through the State of Oregon and has applied for Social Security to give her freedom and the greatest possible independence to enjoy life.  Her sister looks in on her regularly, because some days are confusing while others are really good.

    Margaret is thriving in the community and now has the ability to do endless gardening, which is how she spent most of her time with her late husband.