Group therapy in community mental health centres
AbstractDeveloping accessible community mental health centres (CMHCs) with high quality of care, has been a major health strategy in Norway. There is, however, scarce knowledge about the kinds of therapy which are practiced at the CMHCs. We wanted to study the extent of use of group therapy in CMHCs, types of group therapy, and characteristics of patients who receive such therapy. We also wanted to explore if the use of group therapy seemed to be according to trends suggested by the research literature. A cross-sectional study of all patients (N=3041) receiving consultations at eight selected CMHCs during 4 weeks in 2005. The catchment areas of these CMHCs represented about 10% of the national population. Demographic, clinical, and treatment information was recorded. 15.1% received group therapy, and of these, 40.2% received analytic group therapy, 14.6% cognitive therapy, and 45.2% received ‘other types’ of group therapy. Group patients were older, had less psychopathology, and were more often treated in day-care or in-patient units. One half also received additional individual sessions (combined therapy). Patients in combined therapy had more severe psychiatric problems than those receiving group sessions alone, and patients in analytic groups had less psychopathology than patients receiving ‘other types’ of group therapy. Analytic groups were most common in day-care services. Analytic group therapies have a more central position in everyday clinical work than cognitive group therapy. There are few evidence based guidelines for selecting group therapy methods and more research is needed to decide both what kind of group therapy should be offered to different patient categories, and what kind of group therapy approaches the community mental health centres should be able to offer, within and across the different units.