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Negotiating time. The significance of timing in ending inpatient work

By Sarah Gustavus-Jones


This paper discusses work with young people during their stay on an NHS psychiatric inpatient unit, especially focusing on the end of treatment and the appropriate timing of discharge into the community. When approaching the end of an admission, various factors are considered that seem particularly relevant to the decision of when a young person may be ready to leave and cope with the transition back to life outside the unit. Indications of medical stability, in patients where this has been an issue, is a factor of prime importance. Other important factors include family functioning; the availability of adequate ongoing local CAMHS support for the child and family; suitable school provision; and the identity of the child within a peer group. The reality of NHS resources and the demand for inpatient beds is another pressing consideration. The young person's own motivation emerges as crucial at this stage - towards the end of treatment - not only in terms of what is said, and therefore evident verbally, but also through signs of internal shifts in the child that indicate a capacity to re-engage with life outside in a lasting way. Decisions about when to stop are taken with all this in mind and when the decision does not seem straightforward, it can provoke considerable anxiety in the multi-disciplinary team. Clinical material from psychotherapy with a young adolescent boy with anorexia nervosa is used to illustrate some of the dilemmas. \ud \u

Topics: Patient/Therapist Interaction, Psychoanalysis
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1080/00754170701667205
OAI identifier:

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