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A Psychotherapy Service in a Homeless Setting

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1 A Psychotherapy Service in a Homeless Setting
Dr. Adam Burley Consultant Clinical Psychologist City of Edinburgh Council Housing Department Edinburgh Psychotherapy Department

2 A Definition “Homelessness – It’s not about not having a home. It’s about something being seriously f**king wrong.” “Stuart: A Life Backwards” by Alexander Masters, HarperPerennial, 2006

3 Background: RSI 2002 To identify the prevalence of Personality Disorder within a homeless population To investigate care received, and pathways to that care for identified individuals To make recommendations regarding future service design for identified individuals

4 Background: RSI 2002 70% with at least one diagnosable personality disorder, 40% with two or more 50% with an ongoing diagnosed mental illness 75% with previous forensic history 55% with ongoing drug and/or alcohol abuse n = 115

5 Background: RSI 2002 40% report history of sexual abuse
60% report history of physical abuse Relationship or family break up cited as the most common cause of becoming homeless 60% reported having had experience of being ‘in care’ at one time during their life

6 Background: RSI 2002 High levels of ‘care activity’, an average of seven contacts per month (sd=2.5, range 0-64) Seen in a variety of different settings by a variety of different people No identifiable clear care pathway or care provision

7 Another Definition “……deeply ingrained and enduring behaviour patterns, manifesting themselves as inflexible responses to a broad range of social and personal situations. They are by nature developmental conditions which appear in childhood or adolescence and continue to adulthood.” ICD-10

8 `Such people set up relations with carers that are
characteristic; they are characterized by the defeat of help.` R.D.Hinshelwood 2002

9 The Impact of the Interpersonal World
Relatedness as central to the human experience and mental health Difficulties in forming and maintaining functional relationships has a potentially global impact Endpoint in extreme cases being isolation and severely limited attachments to any object

10 An Emerging Theme For some individuals, homelessness might best be understood as an understandable developmental endpoint, symptomatic of a longstanding incapacity to form and/or maintain functional human relationships. Fundamentally a disturbance in relatedness Symptomatic as well as being problematic

11 Psychodynamic Thought and Homelessness
An interest in relatedness A framework from which to understand the ways in which people don’t seem to make use of, or defeat the intended care and provision Focus on development rather than symptom reduction

12 Establishing a Frame High level of interest amongst non-health agencies Based in, but not employed by, Edinburgh Homeless Practice and The Access Point Availability, Accessibility, and Flexibility felt to be very important Supervision in Psychotherapy Department

13 Establishing a Frame Evolution of service based upon reflection of demands from agencies in supervision leading to; Strategic Levels – Homeless Planning Group Local System Level – EHP, TAP, Housing Team Individual Level – Direct client work

14 `The alternative approach is that the specific
reactions that institutions (in the form of their staff's emotions) have to patients is itself a subject for investigation as part of the process of caring.` R.D.Hinshelwood 2002

15 Practice Example Exclusion group (Inclusion group)
A pause for thought at the time when we have been moved into ending the relationship Development of contracts (for staff) to attempt the maintenance of a (potentially) therapeutic relationship

16 Implications A shift into a focus on the parts that we as staff play
in 'caring' relationships A reflection on what our agendas, our desires, and our needs may be Thought about how our actions and interventions might understood and experienced by others

17 Support Structures Teaching and training - development of interest rather than 'definitive action and knowledge' Supervision - regular and protected, as an essential part of practice Ongoing evaluation of our goals, aims and agendas. In part, a shift from doing to, to trying to understand about

18 Themes…. Importance of transference dynamics between providers and users in bringing an understanding to difficulties Overwhelming material, can promote action over thought Agoraphobic / Claustrophobic dilemma Limitations of understanding Maintenance of relationship in context of severe attacks on linkage

19 The Experience High levels of defeat and disappointment
Feast / famine experience Large amounts of hostility, anger and attack Resistance to thinking about parts that we play in the ‘caring’ relationship

20 Any thoughts or questions?

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