The Benefits of Close Supportive Relationships with Friends, Work Colleagues and Family. Working Towards a New Paradigm for Recovery.

The Benefits of Close Supportive Relationships

 Towards a New Paradigm for Recovery

We have all read about the benefits of Open Dialogue Therapy in Finland:

 An 81% success rate of full recovery and getting people back into employment for schizophrenia can hardly be ignored.  Open Dialogue Therapy advocates an approach of bringing in the family, partners, friends and even work colleagues of a person experiencing psychosis and holding a number of facilitated meetings with them, to talk about their experience and support them in their recovery.  The only agenda for these meetings is to understand what is happening from the sufferer’s perspective and to encourage them to find their own answers according to what is most important to them.  I believe that this approach can have long term benefits because of the network of close supportive relationships that are built up during this process and the understanding that this brings.

Similarly, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Richard Bentall, in his book Doctoring the Mind, advocates an approach of kindness and the value of the therapeutic relationship between therapist and patient in recovery from psychosis.  In an interview with Ed Halliwell:

According to Bentall, the evidence supports a treatment model that relies on supportive relationships rather than pills. “What works is being kind and listening to people, encouraging them to be optimistic and treating them with respect. The tragedy of psychiatry is that it makes patients feel that they are objects to be chemically tinkered with by a bunch of arrogant people in suits.”

But what can we do to practically take advantage of these approaches in a climate where Clinical Psychology is seriously underfunded, Consultant Psychiatrists make all the decisions, and we are looking at a 12 month waiting list if we are lucky enough to be referred for therapy?

Focus on Building Supportive Relationships with Friends, Work Colleagues and Family

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one”  C.S. Lewis (British Scholar and Novelist. 1898-1963)

I believe that the answer is to extrapolate these ideas into the community where we live by building up a network of close supportive relationships within the family, community and at work to maintain wellbeing.  If we have close friendships and relationships, we can support each other at times of stress, and nip any reoccurrence of illness in the bud before it becomes a problem.

Supportive relationships have to be built up over time, but I have found a great way of making friends is to attend courses, groups and activities related to my interests in the community.   I have found Wirral Mind, Get into Reading Groups and the NHS Community Programme to be very helpful in this respect.

All you have to do is start from where you are.  First of all, identify what is important to you.  If you could do absolutely anything, what interests and activities would you like to do?   Once you have an idea of what you would like to do, you can identify opportunities in the community and come up with an action plan for taking advantage of them. By planning to do one thing at a time and breaking each goal down into small achievable steps you will slowly make progress.  The key is to identify any barriers to achieving the goal and then identify strategies to overcome them.  By problem solving in this way we can make progress towards recovery and improve our quality of life.

For example:

Goal: To attend a Reading Group to meet other people and have something positive to look forward to in the week.

Barriers: Lack of confidence about attending, not knowing where the venue is.

Strategies for Overcoming Barriers: Ring up the facilitator beforehand to get information about how the reading group works. Explain that you are feeling nervous about attending and ask for some support.  If possible ask someone to go along with you for the first time. Ask the facilitator to give you directions to the venue.  Look up bus routes and identify a suitable bus.

Useful Links:

Wirral Mind Courses

Get into Reading

NHS Community Programme


January 2012

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