HUMANIZING A PSYCHIATRIC WARD: CHANGING FROM DRUGS TO PSYCHOTHERAPY


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Abstract

During the course of a year the authors changed a psychiatric ward from primary reliance on drugs to an intensive psychological approach. There were both strong institutional supports and resistances reflecting the ambivalence attending efforts to develop more personal, humanized ways of relating to mental patients. An openward community setting evolved in which staff became highly accessible and caring, patients shared major caring and treatment responsibilities, and certain special psychological treatment techniques were developed. Many previously “unbeatable” patients were involved and the improvement criteria were ambitious; the results suggest that such an approach is superior in long-term cost/benefit effectiveness to the prevalent “revolving door” programs which emphasize drugs and “dischargeability.”

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