Daily life at the outpatient psychiatric hospital
The Outpatient Psychiatric Hospital of the St-Michel site of the Europe Hospitals takes in, generally for a period of several months, people suffering from various mental disorders and who are not experiencing a crisis at the moment. These patients visit the Outpatient Hospital after a psychiatric hospitalisation or at the request of their attending psychiatrist, in order to return to a state of personal balance which has been broken or weakened by the disorder (psychosis, severe depression, severe alcoholism...).
The team includes a psychiatrist, several clinical psychologists and a colleague trained at the Ateliers de l’Insu (workshops of the unknown) and who is well on her way to becoming a kinesiotherapist. Furthermore, they work with occupational therapists, a kinesiotherapist, a social assistant, and other members of the hospitalisation unit.
Psychologists at the Outpatient Hospital do not use the more traditional face-to-face support interviews. Personal issues tend to emerge within and through community life, and by the patients’ participation in various workshops.
Admission requests are examined during more conventional structured interviews. When conducting reference interviews with the patient, each team member relies on his/her specific listening skills to create a place for individual expression, in the here and in the now. As many patients visit the Outpatient Hospital for a period of several months, a psychological support space is prepared by one of the team members, who is also a psychologist, to develop reintegration opportunities when the patient leaves the Outpatient Hospital.
Another aspect of their work, which takes precedence over individual work, is an active presence in the community life through the daily management of a group of patients and their demands, by holding meetings to organise activities, and by encouraging interactions and sharing within the group. Each “animator” is also in charge of hosting therapeutic groups encouraging participants to open up to one another, and to express themselves (writing, voice, dance, rhythm and sound, scrap books, improvisation...) Other workshops provide some sense of relief, a feeling of rekindling a connection between the body and mind or of rediscovering a body in motion (relaxation, meditation, Xi Gong... or fast walks, long walks, swimming).
Excursions, for cultural purposes, for a countryside escapade, or just for fun provide some sense of connection to the city and the space that surrounds us. More practical workshops are also organised, and are designed to allow patients to rekindle with the appeasing simplicity of certain activities (sewing, do it yourself...) Various support groups meet every week and examine human and philosophical questions, addiction issues, or life projects, while enjoying a film or watching the news. Conversation tables in Dutch or in English allow participants to familiarise themselves in a fun way with other languages.
This group work opens up experience areas that can be shared, and provides the opportunity of reflecting together. Emotions experienced and questions raised during the workshops and support groups are broached with the group and re-examined with the reference psychologist during interviews.
Clinical meetings allow members of the healthcare team to collect their observations and thoughts, examine their clinical leads, and ask questions relating to the management of a patient.
They also frequently hold meetings with the relatives of a patient and members of the patient’s psychosocial network in order to strengthen relations with reference persons.