Psychoanalysis, the NHS, and Mental Health Work Today

Editor : Alison Vaspe

Psychoanalysis, the NHS, and Mental Health Work Today

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : March 2017
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 320
  • Category :
    Psychoanalysis
  • Catalogue No : 37572
  • ISBN 13 : 9781782203681
  • ISBN 10 : 1782203680
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This book illustrates the distinctive psychoanalytic contribution to mental health services for children, young people, and adults, with detailed case vignettes illustrating therapeutic treatment and the ways in which staff are supported to do work that is frequently difficult and disturbing.

Psychoanalytic thinking contributes to effective mental health work on many levels, from Balint’s “Flash” technique in the brief GP/patient encounter to the psychiatric medical and nursing care in secure units, where the most challenging patients need to be held. Starting with the historical contribution of psychoanalysis to the NHS in the 1940s, this book goes on to explore two key psychoanalytic concepts that remain highly relevant to the work of mental health: containment and countertransference.

The authors include psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, organisational consultants, consultant psychiatrists, and a leading practitioner in the field of primary care. Between them, they address a wide range of contemporary issues, including the complexity of work with traumatised individuals, including refugees; the wide-ranging psychoanalytic contribution to child and adolescent services; the impact on commissioning of a market culture skewed towards targets and quick wins; and the working conditions that can cause staff to neglect and abuse their patients, and/or become ill themselves. Detailed case vignettes and discussion illustrate the psychoanalytic understanding required, if the NHS is to continue to tackle the complex mental health problems that face our society today.

With contributions by Julia Britton, Tim Dartington, Clare Gerada, Richard Ingram, Amanda Keenan, Marilyn Miller, Turlough Mills, Carine Minne, Siobhan O’Connor, Christopher Scanlon, Judy Shuttleworth, Wilhelm Skogstad, Michael Smith, Joanne Stubley, Kyriakos Thomaidis-Zades, and Alison Vaspe.

Reviews and Endorsements

'This excellent book shows the ways in which the psychoanalytic work of experienced and new clinicians benefits both patient and professional. It begins with the metaphor of primitive forces in human nature being like a tiger in the room — “He who rides the tiger dare not dismount” — but notes that not to reflect on relationships in anxious times of risk is also dangerous, in a culture blindly hitting the target but missing the point. This book has a belief that inequality, injustice, and lack of care for the vulnerable in our society is bad for the mental health of us all. It offers the hope of analytic adaptation in a time of extinction anxiety. An obituary of psychoanalysis in the NHS would be premature when such life and energy is evident in an evolving discipline.’
— Dr James Johnston, Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, Leeds, and author of the 2017 policy report to the Royal College of Psychiatrists 'Learning from the Cradle to the Grave: The psychotherapeutic development of doctors from the beginning to the end of their career in medicine and psychiatry'

‘This book is for all of us, whether we work in mental health services or are its patients. We are reminded that, essentially, we are all vulnerable. The vibrancy and applicability of psychoanalytic thinking and practice to help make sense of our different experiences of these services are at the crux of this book. In a market-driven, cost-conscious NHS, this book argues that we ignore the strain of this emotional work at our peril.’
— Lesley Day, psychotherapist, reflective practice and organisational consultant, and former Head of Service at Cassel Hospital

‘This original book is essential reading for all those concerned with mental health in the NHS. It has thought-provoking chapters on the value of psychoanalytic thinking both in outpatient and inpatient settings. The authors explore the key analytical contribution to understanding institutions. An important aspect of this is supporting staff in stressful clinical situations.’
— Nick Temple, President of the British Psychoanalytical Society (2012–2016) and Chief Executive of Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust (2003–2008)

About the Editor(s)

Alison Vaspe trained as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist with the British Association of Psychotherapists (now the British Psychotherapy Foundation), before applying for membership as a psychoanalyst with the British Psychoanalytic Association. She has extensive experience of working therapeutically with NHS staff and students, including fifteen years at the South London & Maudsley Foundation Trust. She is now in full-time private practice in Hampshire.

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