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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Guide to Patient Staff Large Group Meetings: A Sociotherapeutic Approach

Large group meetings of patients and staff are common in most mental hospital treatment units and in partial hospital or day care programs for patients with psychiatric, social, developmental, and addictive disorders. These meetings, usually led by nursing staff, other professionals, and sometimes by the unit chief, are often called 'community meetings'. Their purposes and methods are seldom carefully thought through, and staff are seldom trained in how to contribute and use these meetings. This article presents a sociotherapeutic approach, a particular way to conceptualize and conduct these meetings, holding the understanding of current working relations between staff and patients as their primary task. Advantages of a sociotherapeutic approach are discussed in terms of a hierarchy of administrative and clinical objectives applicable to a wide range of organizations and programs. Guidelines for conducting large group meetings are discussed, and the importance of consistent leadership working within a well conceptualized frame is emphasized.