Negotiating time. The significance of timing in ending inpatient work

Gustavus-Jones, Sarah (2007) Negotiating time. The significance of timing in ending inpatient work. Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 33 (3). pp. 325-344. ISSN 1469-9370 (electronic) 0075-417X (paper) Full text available

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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.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Inpatient Work, Timing of Discharge, Internal Shifts, External Factors, Somatic Illness, Oedipal Issues, Time and Space, Psychic Retreats, Unit as Prison, Unit as Retreat, Unit as Therapeutic Space, Time-limited Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
Subjects: Psychological Therapies, Psychiatry, Counselling > Patient/Therapist Interaction
Children, Young People and Developmental Pyschology > Psychoanalysis
Department/People: Children, Young Adult and Family Services

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