Mental health nurse capabilities in psychotherapy:
An exploratory study

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We would like to invite you to participate in this research project. The aim of the project is to better understand the lived experience of mental health nurses who have qualifications in psychotherapy or counselling.

Research Team

Professor John Hurley

Dr Richard Lakeman

Mr Tom Ryan

Background to the study  

Mental health nurses (MHN) are largely omitted from Medicare funding streams while other disciplines such of occupational therapy and social work are included, alongside psychology and medicine. While we have some understanding of the rates of MHNs practicing psychotherapy and counselling very little is understood about how nurses developed specific capabilities in psychotherapy and/or counselling or indeed how these capabilities have informed their MHN practice. For MHNs to have better access to Medicare funding streams for mental health there is a need to establish what capabilities they possess, how they were developed and how they impact upon MHN practice. 

 What is involved?  

You are invited to complete a brief online survey asking you details about your psychotherapy background and any applications to your mental health nursing practice. The survey should take 10 to 20 minutes to complete.

The survey includes a further invitation to be interviewed by one of the researchers. With your permission interviews will be recorded on your experiences of being a mental health nurse with psychotherapy and/or counselling capabilities and formal qualifications. The interviews will be either by telephone, or if you prefer at Southern Cross University‚Äôs School of Health and Human Sciences. It is expected that the interview will take around 30 - 45 minutes. You can ask for the recording to be paused or stopped at any time.  

Recorded interviews will later be transcribed and listened to, in order to find common experiences amongst those in the group. The individual transcriptions will not be published and shall be totally confidential to the research team. 

All data collected in this project will be stored safely and securely at Southern Cross University for a minimum of 5 years after publication. Data will be used solely for the purposes of this study and all data collected will be de-identified, a process that removes all information that could identify the participating person.  

 If you would like a summary of the final outcomes of the study please indicate this by ticking the appropriate box on the consent form or by emailing me on the address supplied below. Intended publication of findings in professional texts or journals will be in the form of themes and statistical data only and no identifying information about any person, or the organisation, will be reported in any publications. 

 We do not anticipate that the experience will cause you any distress. However, if you do become distressed the researchers will cease the data collection and assist you to make contact with support persons of your choice.  

What are my rights? 

Participants are free to seek more information at any time and may withdraw at any time from the study without explanation. Participation is voluntary, no compensation will be offered and no negative consequence will arise from participating, not participating or from withdrawing. Any participants who require any additional information are encouraged to make contact. I am available for any clarification or discussion on 02 6659 3688 or e-mail address  

Review by Ethics Committees 

The Human Research Ethics Committee at Southern Cross University has reviewed this low risk study and has given ethics approval. The Ethics Approval Number of this study is 19067. Complaints about the ethical conduct of research should, in the first instance, be addressed in writing to the following: 

Ethics Complaints Officer

Human research Ethics Committee

Southern Cross University

PO Box 157

Lismore, NSW, 2480