Ability, sustainability and visibility: articulating, promoting and enhancing mental health nursing psychotherapy in Australia

Document Type


Publication details

Ryan, T & Hurley, J 2018, 'Ability, sustainability and visibility: articulating, promoting and enhancing mental health nursing psychotherapy in Australia', International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol 27, no. S1, pp.43.

Abstract available from:



Psychotherapy is a core component of mental health nursing practice. As with many other aspects of mental health nursing practice there is a great diversity of psychotherapeutic approaches within our discipline. This diversity is arguably a better fit to consumer needs than the more limited range often encountered in other disciplines, particularly in primary health care.

The degree to which mental health nurses emphasise the psychotherapy aspect of their craft varies across settings and circumstances, but many of us have chosen to focus on, develop and deliver various forms of psychotherapy in our practice, often but not exclusively under the rapidly disappearing Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program, and to the demonstrable benefit of people using our services.

Much of this work is poorly recognised and poorly remunerated. We will argue that there are issues of competition, discrimination and stigma which adversely affect our right to practice and more importantly the rights of people in distress to access the psychotherapy we can offer.

With reference to literature on role, identity, skills and outcome evidence this paper will discuss some of the salient challenges and issues in articulating, promoting and enhancing mental health nursing psychotherapy. On a positive and highly applicable note we will discuss the role and ambitions of the recently formed Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Psychotherapy Special Interest Group (SIG), inviting strategic discussion from participants.

Of importance is that the Psychotherapy SIG favours the concept of psychotherapy as a ‘broad church’ rather than rigidly adopting pre‐conceived restrictions and barriers that can be seen as elitist or exclusive. Such a strategy is argued as being more reflective of our mental health discipline and allows for wider participation that can be guided toward increasingly sophisticated levels of capability.

Additional information

Special Issue: ACMHN's 44th International Mental Health Nursing Conference Mental Health is a Human Right 24–26 October 2018 Pullman Cairns International, Cairns, Australia.

Find in your library