Context & Modality
Understanding Context & Modality
Perhaps the most common modality, context or format for mental health treatment is to work on an individual, face-to-face basis. This features one patient or client and one clinician. Traditionally, this model is used in the early stages of treatment. What is central to this model is that the patient is an active participant in a collaborative process. While the individual clinician is an ‘expert’ in their field of specialism the individual patient is an ‘expert’ on their own life, internal world and experiences. Psychiatry tends to take an individual approach to treatment. However, you may request to have an appropriate partner, parent or supportive other participate in the consultation process. Similarly, a psychiatrist may suggest speaking with a supportive family member or friend.
Central to the individual approach is the quality of the therapeutic relationship between the patient and the clinician. It is important that you feel safe, secure, comfortable and confident enough to openly share confidential, personal and at times sensitive information with the professional. It is part of the professional’s role and training to nurture a meaningful, caring, robust working alliance with the individual patient. This does not always mean that there is complete accord with the clinician, but having a secure base allows therapeutic challenges to be discussed and safely negotiated. If you have concerns about the quality of the relationship with your practitioner, you should firstly try to discuss this with the clinician directly. Sometimes working through problems that emerge in the therapeutic relationship can be an important part of the treatment.
Although you are engaging in treatment on an individual basis, an important consideration will be to explore your social network to identify the range and quality of supportive and trusted relationships you have in your life. It is important that the individual accessing treatment has the support and understanding of close others in all areas of life. This could include family, friends, school, education, other professionals and services, a member of your community and work colleagues. It is important that supportive others can help you to reduce stress and conflict in your life, maintain motivation for change and engage fully with the process of treatment.
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