Anita Green

Clarion call for more mental health nurses to enter the research leadership programme

Only nine practitioners applied for the first programme in 2019

Balint group

How to make Balint groups relevant for mental health nurses

In mental health services the use of Balint groups is familiar to doctors who are training to work in psychiatry and this experience is viewed as an integral part of their education. Nurses are less familiar with Balint groups and are not usually taught about this group approach as part of their pre-registration training. This article describes the use of a nurse-led Balint group in the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. The group provided a supportive and accepting environment, a form of clinical supervision, psychosocial education and personal exposure to feelings in a professional setting. It provided nurses with a valuable opportunity to develop knowledge and skills of psychodynamic theory and practice. The authors suggest that Balint group work can complement one-to-one clinical supervision to help further explore and enhance the therapeutic relationship between nurse and patient. Further work needs to be carried out to evaluate the use of Balint groups in multiprofessional teams.

Revisit the forgotten art of letter writing

Using letter writing to augment the therapeutic relationship is familiar to counsellors and psychotherapists, but many mental health nurses have been reluctant to employ this practice. Therapeutic letter writing is not usually included in the mainstream nursing curriculum or as part of routine care, and nurses can feel ill-equipped to undertake it. Letters concerning service users are copied to them as standard practice to aid transparency in communicating about their care. This presents an opportunity to revisit the potential of writing to enhance care and the therapeutic dialogue. This article includes a brief review of therapeutic letter writing, and examines its uses, advantages and contraindications. Examples of letters with therapeutic intent are included.