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The Art of Helpful Relationships with Professionals

The Art of Helpful Relationships with Professionals: A Meta-ethnography of the Perspective of Persons with Severe Mental Illness

by Amanda Ljungberg, Anne Denhov, Alain Topor

Abstract Relationships with professionals have been shown to be helpful to persons with severe mental illness (SMI) in relation to a variety of services. In this article, we aimed to synthesize the available qualitative research to acquire a deepened understanding of what helpful relationships with professionals consists of, from the perspective of persons with SMI. To do this, we created a meta-ethnography of 21 studies, through which ten themes and an overarching interpretation were created. The findings show that helpful relationships with professionals are relationships where the persons with SMI get to spend time with professionals that they know and trust, who gives them access to resources, support, collaboration and valued interpersonal processes, which are allowed to transgress the boundaries of the professional relationship. The overarching interpretation shows that the relationship that persons with SMI form with professionals is a professional relationship as well as an interpersonal relationship. Both these dimensions entail actions and processes that can be helpful to persons with SMI. Therefore, it is important to recognize and acknowledge both the functional roles of service user and service provider, as well as the roles of two persons interacting with each other, in a manner that may go beyond the purview of the traditional professionalism. Furthermore, the helpful components of this relationship are determined by the individual preferences, needs and wishes of persons with SMI.

Published online in the Psychiatric Quarterly, January 2015

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