ACT is different. It’s different than outpatient mental health clinic work. It’s very different than hospital-based work. ACT clinicians need different tools and different skills. We need a curriculum to help clinicians develop their skills to do this incredibly challenging work.
What should be on the “must read” list? I say start in the deep end of the pool, with concepts on recovery and relationship. Articles #1 and #2 on my all-time favorites are:
Patricia Deegan’s paper is forever timely. A sample:
“… we can make the finest and most advanced rehabilitation services available to people with psychiatric disabilities and still fail to help them. Something more than just “good services” is needed; the person must get out of bed, shake off the mind-numbing exhaustion of the neuroleptics, get dressed, overcome the fear of the crowded and unfriendly bus to arrive at the program, face the fear of failure in the rehabilitation program, etc. … people with psychiatric disabilities must be active and courageous participants in their own rehabilitation project or that project will fail. It is through the process of recovery that people with disabilities become active and courageous participants in their own rehabilitation project.”
I read this once a year and never fail to learn something new. This powerful article should not be read just by clinicians, or just by consumers or just by family members – it should be read by EVERYONE! Read it and tell me what you think. You’ll find a pdf version at http://bit.ly/1p3aE5N
#2 – The Four Walls
Mark Ragins articulates so well the challenges that come in moving from hospital to community, not just physically – “ladies and gentleman, the psychiatrist has left the building” – but in one’s mindset. He writes:
“A woman once told me, “My psychiatrist asks me about my voices, my paranoia, my sleep, my side effects. He never asks me about me.” The people we help are not just interesting cases of psychiatric illnesses. They are people living the profound human experiences of the destruction and recovery from mental illness.”
This article should be read by all ACT clinicians. And if anyone has a way by which we can get all psychiatric residents to read it they can have my next-born child!
You can find The Four Walls and other writings by Mark Ragins at www.recoverystories.info/the-four-walls-by-mark–ragins/
Why start with material that is all attitude and idea rather than more skills-directed? Because if clinicians can’t master the mindshift to recovery-based treatment then all the skills just won’t do it. It’s not that having other skills – understanding how to draw up recovery/treatment/service plans, addiction work and even developing Motivational Interviewing skills (I’ll come back to MI!) – isn’t critically important, but if you don’t have a foundation on which to build everything falls flat.
Those are my two suggestions. Your turn – What would you include? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.