What education and training needs to offer MHNs assuming new roles: findings from a qualitative study on MHNs delivering talk based therapies

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Publication details

Hurley, JM 2011, 'What education and training needs to offer MHNs assuming new roles: findings from a qualitative study on MHNs delivering talk based therapies', paper presented to Australian College of Mental Health Nursing 37th International Conference: mental health nursing: swimming between the flags?, Gold Coast, Qld., 4-7 October.


Mental health nurses (MHN) in the United Kingdom, as in Australia, are increasingly expanding their practice to move beyond traditional understandings of what interventions nurses offer to help service users. These traditional understandings can be arguably understood as MHNs offering predominantly passive interventions through observing and reporting for other professions to decide upon clinical interventions, or through placing absolute emphasis upon the therapeutic relationship as the ‘curative be all and end all’ of what MHNs do; seemingly oblivious that other disciplines share and hence also partially ‘own’ this vital aspect of care provision. This paper offers qualitative fi ndings from 24 MHNs engaged in delivering talk based therapies. These fi ndings suggest that preparatory education and training needs to refl ect a complex cluster of considerations, particularly with pre-registration mental health nursing becoming increasingly marginalised within curriculum; and in cognizance that new MHN roles are increasing autonomous. An emergent truth from this study is that a highly inclusive approach to education and training is required, one that commences with enabling the individual’s emotional intelligence capabilities, yet that also incorporates the structure and direction of a variety of talk based therapy approaches. It also emerged that this education and training should be conducted across both formal education and work based training sites, with a powerful and stable pool of effective MHN role models being in place. However, MHNs who undertake such training appeared more likely to ‘escape’ nursing for the perceived comparative higher worth of other disciplines. Attendees will be invited to critically explore and debate these issues which while focused upon talk based therapies, also pertain to other emergent MHN roles and hence identities of our profession.

Additional information

Abstract published in International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol. 20, supp. s1. p. 9.


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