`When you are tired or terrified your voice slips back into its old first place': The role of feelings in community mental health practice with forensic patients

John Boyle, George Kernohan, Tom Rush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the role of feelings experienced by professionals in community forensic practice. A modified grounded theory approach was used to conduct an analysis of transcripts made from five individual semi-structured interviews with multi-disciplinary professionals working in community mental health teams. The participants were asked to reflect on their feelings when working with forensic patients in the community and the extent to which they believed these feelings could influence professional practice. The following codes were established: emotional responses; binary thinking; deconstructing labels; bureaucratic defence procedures; practice dilemmas; the professional is personal; applying the therapeutic model to the practitioner; trauma; fantasy and imagination. As well as illustrating the significant impact that feelings have upon forensic practitioners, this paper also makes some suggestions to improve future practice. These include the use of psychoanalytic theory and `mindfulness' strategies to enhance the awareness of mental health professionals regarding the influence of feelings upon practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-313
JournalJournal of Social Work Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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