Avoid coercion – be there for the patient

Geir Småvik is one of several resource persons with user competence tied to KBT. Monday june 20th, Geir and Dagfinn Bjørgen held a lecture for employees at Nidaros DPS on the topic of coercion in psychiatric care.

Geir recalls being excited, but not nervous, before the lecture.

– It was the first lecture I’ve ever held, and i was there because I wanted to contribute with user experience. I’d done a lot of preparations together with Dagfinn.

Prevention through presence

What were you there to talk about?

– We were there to talk about the use of coercion in psychiatric care. I’m not opposed to coercion, but feel it’s possible to avoid a lot of it simply by handling situations differently. It’s important to take preventive measures against coercion in departments, like compulsory admissions.

What do you feel is the most important tool in preventing coercion?

– What’s important is not to wait until the situation is too precarious. In the departments, there needs to be a physical and mental “presence”. The staff should spend time with the users, be engaging and willing to form relationships. Don’t just be employees.

Geir is especially interested in the relationship between staff and patient.

– It seems as though professionals are skeptical to physical contact, and often fear the worst possible scenario. But maybe the patient just needs a hug! I received a hug in 2003, and I still remember it. There are so many that could be helped like this. Presence and physical touch is imperative, and professionals must avoid being dismissive. For some patients, it’s either having positive relationships at the facility or no relationships at all.


Text and photo: Ingvild M. Kvisle
Translation: Lasse Barr

About Ingvild M. Kvisle

Works as a project team member in KBT. Works with User Interviews User, dialogue meetings, webpage and social media.