Do brief psychological interventions work? A review of patient and service outcomes in a public mental health setting

Ms Clodagh Ross-Hamid1,2, Miss May Ladlanki1, Dr Shaun Halovic, Dr Anthony Korner3,4, Associate Professor Loyola McLean3,4

1Emotional Health and Clinical Research Unit, Cumberland Hospital, North Parramatta, Australia, 2Western Sydney University, Penrith, Australia, 3Westmead Psychotherapy Program, Cumberland Hospital, North Parramatta, Australia, 4Sydney University, Camperdown, Australia

Consumers with personality disorder occupy between 25-30% of inpatient beds in public mental health facilities, and are the most likely diagnostic cohort to be re-admitted to an inpatient mental health facility in the district within a month of discharge. Whilst this mental health facility provide effective and best-evidence long-term structured psychotherapy programs (e.g. Conversational Model and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy), some limitations to clinical service delivery have been observed. Data reviews, staff interviews and consumer feedback groups report experiences of long waitlists, rigorous and lengthy admissions processes, long-term commitment requirements, traumatising patient journeys, fragmented services and resource-allocation have been identified as some of the barriers to accessing effective therapies. In early 2019, we implemented a brief four session, accessible psychological therapy program across three outpatient clinics in an effort to address the needs of this mental health service, and the consumers it supports. These brief therapies are part of a wider mental health system initiative promoted by the Project Air Strategy for Personality Disorders, operating as a bridge to longer-term and resource-intensive therapies, which is a critical component of a proposed stepped-care framework to the assessment and treatment of personality disorder. This review reports on the effectiveness of the brief psychology intervention clinics in reducing crisis presentations to acute mental health facilities and on clinical outcomes for patients who have completed the program.


Clodagh Ross-Hamid is a clinical psychologist who specialises in developing and facilitating programs for consumers and their loved ones who are affected by personality disorder and other complex trauma-related disorders. She currently leads the Cumberland Gold Card Clinic and the Emotional Health Clinic and Research Unit (EHCRU), both of which provide timely and accessible structured psychological support programs for people who present in crisis to public mental health acute care settings. Clodagh has strong interests in developing and researching psychological programs which are contemporaneous, innovative, best evidenced-based, and truly hold the person at the centre of their individual mental health recovery journey. Clodagh has undergraduate and post-graduate qualifications in clinical psychology and clinical redesign, and is commencing a PhD focusing on contemporary approaches to the treatment of complex trauma-related disorders.

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