A model of psychotherapeutic leadership in health-care management

A key contribution of psychotherapeutic thinking and practice is in making links to identify patterns that are often deep-rooted and not easily seen, which help to enhance understanding. This can make sense of the individual’s problems, such as in using the care that is available, but also modulate the organization’s expectations in dealing with a complex group of patients. There is benefit in aiding recognition of the limits of health-care provision and the capacity of the patient to make use of interventions, before a line is crossed to encouraging harmful dependency. Similarly, organizational dynamics using psychotherapy can help individuals and teams of staff understand their own responses to difficult patients and situations, so they are able to retain a therapeutic perspective and deliver good-quality care. Psychotherapy has been increasingly useful in training and development of staff with case-based discussions, training, and peer feedback, to help make sense of the relationships between the patient and the providers. External engagement is key to retaining the support of stakeholders. In this, psychotherapy adds particular value for the organization in moving it beyond simply being a delivery vehicle of metrics and mandatory contracted requirements. Hence, psychotherapy and its practitioners are well placed to communicate some of the difficulties in achieving individual and group objectives to clinical and managerial colleagues in secondary and primary care and also to commissioning and regulatory bodies.

Psychotherapeutic leadership within health care is important in understanding shifts in internal culture caused by envy and competition within and outside the organization. Psychotherapists and psychiatrists specializing in psychotherapy should work to use these key skills for the benefit of the patients that are served by their organizations. This will assist the larger organization and its executive leadership’s engagement with its various stakeholders, whilst operating in a competitive environment. The need now is for a kind of psychotherapeutic leadership which assists in clarifying the role of tasks and continually links these to the objectives of quality. In its absence, there is a risk that the health-care organization will repeatedly get caught in anxious cycles of doing, rather than actually thinking about what it should be hoping to achieve as its objectives.

Recommended reading

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