Mentalizing capacities of mental health nurses

A systematic PRISMA review

Gieke Free, Wilma Swildens, Saskia Knapen, Aartjan Beekman en Berno van Meijel
Soort object
Accessible Summary What is known on the subject? • Mentalizing is the capacity to understand both one‘s own and other people‘s behaviour in terms of mental states, such as, for example, desires, feelings and beliefs. • The mentalizing capacities of healthcare professionals help to establish effective therapeutic relationships and, in turn, lead to better patient outcomes. What this paper adds to existing knowledge? • The personal factors positively associated with the mentalizing capacities of healthcare professionals are being female, greater work experience and having a more secure attachment style. Psychosocial factors are having personal experi ence with psychotherapy, burnout, and in the case of female students, being able to identify with the female psychotherapist role model during training. There is limited evidence that training programmes can improve mentalizing capacities. • Although the mentalization field is gaining importance and research is expanding, the implications for mental health nursing have not been previously reviewed. Mental health nurses are underrepresented in research on the mentalizing ca pacities of healthcare professionals. This is significant given that mental health nurses work closest to patients and thus are more often confronted with patients‘ behaviour compared to other health care professionals, and constitute a large part of the workforce in mental healthcare for patients with mental illness. What are the implications for practice? • Given the importance of mentalizing capacity of both the patient and the nurse for a constructive working relationship, it is important that mental health nurses are trained in the basic principles of mentalization. Mental health nurses should be able to recognize situations where patients‘ lack of ability to mentalize creates difficulties in the interaction. They should also be able to recognize their own dif ficulties with mentalizing and be sensitive to the communicative implications this may have.