Every two weeks, on Thrusdays
Fall 2021 Edition
Lisa Bortolotti (University of Birmingham)
30 septembre 2021, 15h30.
« The Agential Stance: How to support young people in mental health clinical encounters »
In this paper we ask what it takes for a practitioner to support a user’s sense of agency within a mental healthcare encounter. Our emphasis is on users who are also young people and seek help during a crisis, though the themes considered here can as well apply to different clinical populations and, with some qualifications, to personal relationships more widely. In our project we bring together a group of young people, clinicians, and academics from philosophy, psychology, and psychiatry to learn what undermines and supports young people’s sense of agency by using real-life video-recorded mental healthcare encounters. Our question is this: in a mental healthcare context, what does it take for a practitioner to interact with a user in a way that does not undermine the user’s sense of agency? In the paper we plan to provide a preliminary answer to this question by offering a brief explanation and some examples for each of the themes we have identified. In order for a practitioner not to undermine a user’s sense of agency, the practitioner needs to validate the user’s experiences; legitimise the user’s choice to seek help; avoid uncritically labelling or objectifying the user; affirm the user’s capacity to contribute to positive change; and involve the user in the decision-making process. We discuss the implications of the agential stance for the clinical encounter and suggest that the results of our study can inform the training of mental healthcare practitioners.