Revisit the forgotten art of letter writing
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Revisit the forgotten art of letter writing

Anita Green Dual diagnosis nurse consultant, Millview Hospital, Hove
Nicky Lambert Senior lecturer, Department of Mental Health, Social Work and Interprofessional Learning, University of Middlesex, London

Mental health nurses can enhance the therapeutic relationship by reviving this under-used strategy, say Anita Green and Nicky Lambert

Using letter writing to augment the therapeutic relationship is familiar to counsellors and psychotherapists, but many mental health nurses have been reluctant to employ this practice. Therapeutic letter writing is not usually included in the mainstream nursing curriculum or as part of routine care, and nurses can feel ill-equipped to undertake it.

Letters concerning service users are copied to them as standard practice to aid transparency in communicating about their care. This presents an opportunity to revisit the potential of writing to enhance care and the therapeutic dialogue. This article includes a brief review of therapeutic letter writing, and examines its uses, advantages and contraindications. Examples of letters with therapeutic intent are included.

Mental Health Practice. 16, 8, 30-34. doi: 10.7748/mhp2013.


Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Accepted: 22 August 2012