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Mental Health Nurse Practitioners and Psychotherapeutic Interventions



Mental Health Nurse Practitioners and Psychotherapeutic Interventions

Last Updated on February 24, 2024 by Joshua Isibor

There is a need for healthcare professionals with expertise in mental health, and nurse practitioners (NPs) are essential in providing high-quality patient care in this area. NPs provide a range of services and diagnose, treat, and manage mental illness. They play an indispensable part in mental health teams collaborating with other mental health professionals to ensure optimal patient outcomes. There are a range of psychotherapeutic interventions in treatment planning for patients with mental health conditions. The type of intervention used depends on the patient’s symptoms, diagnosis, and specific needs.

Who are Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners?

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNPs) are advanced practice registered nurses who provide mental health treatment and support services. They deliver care to patients with mental health issues, psychiatric disorders, or behavioral problems. They diagnose, treat, and manage mental illness and create treatment plans that are tailored to meet the psychiatric needs of each patient. They educate patients and families and provide preventative care such as screening. They may specialize in the management of patients with a particular disorder, such as substance abuse or anorexia nervosa. PMHNPs work in various areas, including ambulatory care, acute care, long-term care, and community health facilities. 

Studies have shown that integrating services improves patient outcomes and reduces costs, as well as mental health stigma. A collaborative, person-centered approach to mental healthcare allows a range of professionals to understand the patient’s needs. Mental health teams have staff from mainly mental health and social care backgrounds, including psychiatrists, social workers, mental health nurses, pharmacists, occupational therapists, and psychologists. PMHNPs work with the medical team to provide the best outcomes for patients. PMHNPs are typically responsible for supporting recovery and helping patients manage their health and improve their quality of life.

Taking a post-master’s certificate and becoming a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner is one way in which nurses can advance their careers. Online programs, such as the one offered by Spring Arbor University, are beneficial to those already working, creating the flexibility needed for a work, study, and life balance. 

Therapeutic interventions

Therapeutic intervention in psychology refers to the practices or actions that improve an individual’s psychological, social, or emotional well-being. PMHNPs use various intervention techniques, including the application of counseling theories. Many counseling theories have been developed over the years, forming a central part of mental health practice, some of which are discussed below. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Research has demonstrated that cognitive behavioral therapy can considerably improve well-being and functioning. It can help in treating numerous difficulties, including severe mental ill health, depression, drug and alcohol misuse, anxiety, and eating disorders. PMHNPs may find out about the patient’s background, but the present situation is the focal point. The theory stems from the principle that mental or emotional problems are partly caused by harmful behavior patterns as well as negative or faulty ways of thinking. Patients with mental health problems can relieve symptoms, learn coping techniques, and lead more satisfying lives. Strategies for improving behavior include learning about mind and body relaxation and facing up to fears. Strategies for changing thinking patterns include having a better understanding of other people’s behavior and identifying ways of thinking that are unhelpful. PMHNPs work with patients to decide the most appropriate strategies and create a treatment plan. 

Narrative therapy

Narrative therapy considers patients to be separate from their negative behavior and problems. It looks at the understanding the patient has of their life and how any issues relate to this narrative. This therapy supports patients in seeing patterns in how they comprehend life events or problems and discovering how to view them in a more positive light. Narrative therapy allows patients to recognize hidden parts of their stories, find new understandings of their life experiences, and rewrite their own stories. Patients are encouraged to respect themselves and to discard blame or judgment. A narrative is developed that helps the patient to process their experience and have meaning in their life. PMHNPs help patients focus on the positive aspects of their experience and feel in control of their own lives. 

Psychodynamic therapy

Psychodynamic therapy is used to treat mental health conditions like depression and concentrates on outcomes and solving problems. Patients are supported in analyzing past experiences and feelings to resolve difficulties and change behavior in present relationships. PMHNPs help patients to analyze their childhood and past experiences and relate them to their current lives. The theory stems from the belief that addressing such issues allows effective treatment to take place. Research on this theory has shown that it can affect the brain positively. The application of psychodynamic theory can take longer than many other theories because it involves a lot of reflection and considerable work toward understanding the self. Self-reflective patients and those committed to learning more about themselves can benefit from this type of therapy. 

Group therapy

Group therapy can be directed at particular problems, including substance abuse, depression, anxiety, panic disorder, or chronic pain. Other groups can be focused on issues like low self-esteem or anger or on the improvement of social skills. There are also groups for bereaved people. Groups can help people talk to others with similar experiences and provide a support network. Sharing experiences can help people put their problems into perspective. Patients find out how others deal with mental health problems, and this can introduce them to new strategies.

PMHNPs have specialized training to enable them to teach strategies for dealing with specific problems. Many people find it useful to attend individual and group therapy. Both types of therapy have benefits, and partaking in both can be particularly effective. Confidentiality is one of the ground rules of group therapy, and this encourages open and honest communication. Group members can support each other and become valued sources of support. 

Family therapy

Family therapy focuses on family relationships and the behavioral patterns of the family unit. It also considers the behavior of individuals and subgroups within the family. It aims to address psychological issues that cause family problems. PMHNPs working in family therapy use diverse approaches and processes. The models used vary in terms of length, past or present emphasis, techniques used, and treatment goals. Family therapy is a method to create ongoing functional and healthy family relationships.

The aim is to recognize and deal with problems in the family. Many techniques used in family therapy have developed from family systems theory. It is believed that families are systems-oriented rather than each individual functioning independently. The theory suggests that if one family member changes, it will influence the rest of the family. Benefits can include providing coping tools, improving problem-solving abilities, and addressing dysfunctional interactions. Issues addressed by family therapy include dealing with chronic illness or death in the family, inconsistent parenting, and conflicts between siblings. 

Trauma-informed care

Research has shown a strong link between trauma and mental health problems and has identified that many people using mental health services have experienced trauma. Trauma-informed care is based on the effects of traumatic experiences, awareness of the high prevalence of trauma, and the potential for trauma to occur within care. PMHNPs are trained to understand and implement trauma-informed care. Numerous trauma-informed strategies can be used to help patients overcome the effects of trauma.

There are six principles of trauma-informed care: safety; trust; choice; collaboration; empowerment; and cultural consideration. It is important to create a safe emotional, social, and physical environment with safeguarding practices and arrangements in place. There must be shared decision-making with patients involved in their care to build trust between patients and mental health professionals. Patients with shared experiences are allowed to give and receive support from peers. Patients and staff are validated, and empowerment through recovery is supported.

Solution-focused brief therapy

Solution-focused brief therapy focuses on finding solutions rather than the problems that caused patients to have therapy. This therapeutic approach is short-term and based on positive psychology practices and principles that aim to establish desired behavioral change. Solutions are developed by initially addressing how the patient’s life will improve when a problem is resolved or a situation is improved.

PMHNPs work with the patient to consider their life experiences and behavioral patterns to develop a solution that is practical and sustainable and that can be readily implemented. This process involves recognizing and analyzing times when the patient has successfully addressed challenges and difficulties in the past. The approach was developed over time by observing therapy sessions and seeing which therapist statements, behaviors, and questions led to positive therapeutic outcomes. This model is goal-oriented and practical and emphasizes the negotiation of realistic goals. 

Mindfulness-based interventions

Research has demonstrated that mindfulness meditation can alleviate stress by changing biology and the brain in positive ways. Mindfulness has been used throughout history, but in more recent times, it has been used to manage stress and improve well-being. Meditation can help to achieve a state of calm concentration and emotional positivity. Mindfulness techniques have two parts: attention and acceptance.

Attention involves focusing on the present time and being aware of breathing, thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Acceptance involves observing those feelings without judgment and acknowledging them before letting them go. Mindfulness therapy gives patients the tools to practice these concepts. Mindfulness therapy can be effective in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. It can also help in treating specific problems like pain and addiction. Research has shown that mindfulness can lower the body’s reaction to stress. Chronic stress can make the immune system less effective and make health problems worse. 

Interpersonal therapy

Interpersonal therapy is often used to address severe depression, but it can also be a treatment used to prevent relapse or illness recurrence. It is also used to treat specific problems such as chronic fatigue, bulimia nervosa, anxiety, and mood disorders. It can be used to treat patients from adolescence to adulthood. This approach focuses on improving interpersonal functioning to relieve symptoms. It addresses relationships and problems happening currently. This therapy is time-limited and delivered to individuals and groups.

It stems from the idea that psychological symptoms can be related to current difficulties in relationships. There is a focus on relationship conflict that is creating tension as well as stress and difficulties in starting or sustaining relationships. It also addresses life changes, grief, and loss, and how these affect feelings about oneself and others. Learning strategies for dealing with relationship difficulties can often improve symptoms. This theory can be used in combination with medication or as a stand-alone treatment. 

An important role

The nature of services extended by the PMHNPs to ensure optimal patient care makes them an integral part of healthcare teams. Due to the widespread mental health challenges, PMHNPs will continue to be in great demand by employers, and the scope of the role will keep expanding as well.

ALSO, READ 8 Reasons Why It Is Important To Look After Your Mental Health

Originally posted 2024-01-24 11:56:43.

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