Reinforcing the human and healing aspects of psychiatry

Dr Jed Boardman and Dr Subodh Dave, co-chairs of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Person-Centred Training and Curriculum Scoping Group, blog about the need for training to reinforce the human and healing aspects of psychiatry.

Andrea Sutcliffe, the incoming head of the Nursing and Midwifery, has suggested that nursing needs to rediscover the humanity inherent in its role. This need for rediscovery is not confined to nursing and other professions will recognise the need. Witness the plethora of recent books by clinicians on their own personal and professional experiences. Rediscovery for health and social professionals means not only recognising that patients are people, but that practitioners are people too.

How might the training of practitioners contribute to this? How might we reinforce the human and healing aspects of practice as we move into an ever-changing future? Future generations of practitioners will need the skills and capacities that enable us to listen to people who seek our help, to understand and support them in the social context of their lives, and to place an increased emphasis on the active roles they can play as citizens and partners in care processes. They will need a knowledge of both biological and social sciences, as well as the ability to adapt to changing social trends and service delivery.

Person-Centred approaches may provide one of the components needed for these challenges and the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) has recently published a report on Person-Centred Training for core trainees. They conclude that person-centred approaches should provide the overarching orientation for psychiatric practice and should be central and explicit throughout the curriculum and consonant with the expected values and competencies of future practitioners. Significantly, the RCPsych’s Scoping Group on Person-Centred Training, comprised not only of psychiatrists but others with expertise in psychiatric education, clinical practice, lived experience as well as many combined experiences.

If we are to reinforce the importance of personhood in training, then our curricula should be explicitly person-centred in its language as in its content. Training must equip trainees to use a range of person-focused approaches in their daily clinical practice, such as shared decision-making, self-directed support, co-production, collaborative care and support-planning as well as ethics, human rights, community engagement and social inclusion. But perhaps most importantly the role of service users, carers and patient representatives in planning and delivering training courses and supplementary skills training must be strengthened.

Read the report, Royal College of Psychiatrists. Person-centred care: implications for training in psychiatry. College Report CR215. Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2018


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