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14.3.4. Collaborative relationships between Clients and mental health workers Collaborative alliance ‘Clearly, any individual faced with living with serious mental health problems has some very hard thinking to do, some difficult decisions to make and perhaps some risky experiments to try. Anyone in such a situation might value an ally who could help them to work through the issues involved and come to decisions that are right for them. Having decided on a course of action, the person may well then require … assistance that will enable them to carry through their chosen course and help them to review their decisions from time to time in the light of events. But that is not compliance, rather collaborative alliance. Quoted in Perkins & Repper, 1998 The importance of being able to talk about experiences ‘Only once in 15 years of psychiatric intervention, and at the age of 36, was I able to find someone who was willing to listen. This proved a turning point for me, and from this I was able to break out of being a victim and start owning my experience. The nurse actually found time to listen to my experiences and feelings. She always made me feel welcome, and would make arrangements so that we would not be disturbed. She would switch off her bleeper and take her phone off the hook, and sometimes, as there were people outside her room, she would close the blinds. These actions made me feel at ease. She would sit to one side of me instead of across a desk…. Over a six-month period, I was able to develop a basic strategy for coping. The most important thing that she did was that she was honest – honest in her motivations and in her responses to what I told her… Thanks to the support this worker gave, I have been able to develop a range of coping mechanisms.’ Quoted in Romme & Escher, 1993 One of the key propositions of this report is that those operating in mental health services should be collaborators with service users rather than present as experts who have all the answers. A trusting, collaborative relationship between clinician and service user is a necessary prerequisite of, and arguably as important as, any specific treatment. Any treatment (including drug treatment) is unlikely to be very helpful on a long term basis unless the clinician and the service user have a positive and meaningfully collaborative relationship (Frank & Gunderson, 1990). Although effective relationships between staff and users would seem to be an obvious necessity, services often do not operate as if this were the case. Relationships between workers and service users ‘I needed someone who would just be there – solid, non-judging, not trying to force me to do this or that, just being with me and helping me to make sense of some very frightening, but also very beautiful and visionary experiences. My essential need was to be grounded, connected to life and the world, not excluded and punished.’[163] Quoted in Cobb, 1993 A number of psychologists are of the opinion that separate legislation that only applies to people deemed ‘mentally ill’ is discriminatory. This is only compounded by the difficulties in defining ‘mental illness’ previously referred to. The British Psychological Society has

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Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Understanding Bipolar Disorder  

This report was written by a working party of clinical psychologists who were chosen because of their particular expertise on the subject of...

Understanding Bipolar Disorder  

This report was written by a working party of clinical psychologists who were chosen because of their particular expertise on the subject of...