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Cognitive milieu therapy and physical activity: experiences of mastery and learning among patients with dual diagnosis

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Abstract

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  • Cognitive milieu therapy, including physical activity, promoted mastery and learning in inpatients with dual diagnoses. Physical activity was an important source for personal learning.
  • The learning climate was created through the proactive attitude of staff, including the application of an educational process, a focus on cooperation on equal terms between patients and staff, and a professional methodological approach through cognitive milieu therapy.
  • The cognitive method was sometimes experienced as too theoretical and difficult to understand, and it was a challenge to achieve an optimal balance between staff-induced activities and patient initiatives.
  • Patients highly appreciated learning from other patients.

Abstract

During the last decade, there has been a growing interest in implementing cognitive milieu therapy (CMT) in psychiatric institutions. However, there is a lack of systematic evaluations from patients' point of view. The aim of this study was to explore and describe patient perceptions of essential experiences of mastery, learning alternative ways of thinking, and acquiring new skills through CMT and physical activity in an inpatient setting. Qualitative interviews were carried out with 20 patients with dual diagnosis. A hermeneutic – phenomenological approach was used in the data collection and analysis. The results showed that the learning climate in the unit was important. This included a proactive attitude from the staff, focusing on cooperation on equal terms between patients and staff, and a professional methodological approach through CMT. The optimal balance between staff-induced activities and patient initiatives was not easy to obtain. Patients appreciated both the education provided by the staff and learning from other patients. The cognitive method was sometimes experienced as too theoretical and difficult to understand. Physical activity, however, was experienced as ‘concrete’ and providing practical knowledge. It motivated patients to establish new habits and provided opportunities for the development of mastery together with other patients.

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