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Health Soc Care Community. 1999 Nov;7(6):475-482.

Exploring 'person-centredness': user perspectives on a model of social psychiatry.

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Division of Psychological Medicine, University of Wales College of Medicine, UK andDryll-y-Car Community Support Unit, Barmouth, Gwynedd, Wales, UK.


This paper explores service users' experiences of a 'person-centred' mental health service. We describe the development of a model of social psychiatry that places the emphasis on the experiences of the person within social and political contexts. This establishes the foundations of a 'person-centred' approach, the values of which are described briefly. The results of interviews with 20 people are presented, in which their experiences of the service are explored in detail. These interviews reveal the struggle that lies at the heart of the professional-service user dialectic, which relates to issues of institutional power, roles and responsibility, and which places professional staff in conflict with the very notion of 'person-centredness'. No matter how 'person-centred' a mental health service may strive to be, there remain serious obstacles to the full realization of this approach. Despite this critique, there were many things that were valued by those who used the service. More detailed qualitative studies are required to explicate the complex relationships and paradoxes that emerged.


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