Unknowing: a potential common factor in successful engagement and psychotherapy with people who have complex psychosocial needs
Lakeman, R 2014, 'Unknowing: a potential common factor in successful engagement and psychotherapy with people who have complex psychosocial needs', International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 383-388.
Published version available from:
Mental health nurses have a demonstrated capacity to work with people who have complex mental health and social problems in a respectful and non-coercive way for lengthy periods of time. Despite contributing to positive outcomes, nurses are rarely described as possessing psychotherapeutic skills or having advanced knowledge. More often, they are described as being instrumental to medicine, and nurses are socialized into not overstepping their subordinate position relative to medicine by claiming to know too much. Paradoxically, this position of unknowing, when employed mindfully, could be a critical ingredient in fostering therapeutic relationships with otherwise difficult-to-engage people. The concept of unknowing is explored with reference to different schools of psychotherapy. Adopting an unknowing stance, that is, not prematurely assuming to know what the person's problem is, nor the best way to help, might enable a deeper and more authentic understanding of the person's experience to emerge over time.