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Annie Higgs

AnnieExperience as a Practitioner

I have worked in health services since 1977, training as a general Nurse & then as a psychiatric nurse. I have worked in both hospital and community settings, alongside those with a number of different health related issues, across a variety of age ranges.

As well as being a practitioner I have experience of developing services. Mindful of taking a whole systems approach I am used to evolving processes in a changing environment.

From 2000-8 I worked as a Clinical Specialist for Psychosocial Interventions within the local mental health NHS trust. This role integrated theory and practice with a focus on developing training programs and supervision structures for staff across a range of care groups. During this time I was able to focus on working with individuals and their families or groups of those who experienced severe and enduring mental health difficulties. As part of my Masters program at Bath university I explored the experience of those who were offered family work for psychosis. This informed practice and training & also helped to develop outcome measures relevant to those who use these services.

Since 2008 I have been an independent mental health practitioner, supervisor and trainer. More recently I have coordinated a mental health & well- being service at the University of Gloucestershire. This role allowed me to focus on difficulties caused by a number of issues including poor self confidence, stress, anxiety, depression and self harm.

Since 2000 my work has focussed on enabling recovery from mental health difficulties. This is based on a working in partnership in a structured way, using compassionate approaches.

I have an individual caseload and offer individual and family work to those who experience mental health difficulties. I am currently engaged in a voluntary capacity in running a 'Past times' group meeting in my local community, particularly aimed at increasing opportunities for social contact and networking for individuals and their carers or family.

I am a member of the Nursing Midwifery Council, the Royal College of Nursing and the Mental Health Nurses Association.

Supervisor and Trainer

Since 1996 I have designed and delivered courses at varying levels of academia from awareness training to degree level training at the local university, in a variety of organisations.

In my role as Clinical Specialist for Psychosocial Interventions in the local NHS Foundation Trust I offered both individual and group supervision across a range of services in a number of settings. My specialist subjects included family work for psychosis, medication management, working with high risk patients and facilitating weight management groups and improving the physical health of those who use mental health services.

My supervision could be described at different times as educational, consultancy, reparative and managerial. I offer supervision in an individual or group setting in which we negotiate the purpose of our meeting, the length and regularity of meetings, and the recording of any notes made. We conclude by summarising what has been discussed and agreed and how the meeting has been experienced by those present.

I am used to working with a range of professional groups including Nurses, Social Workers, Occupational Therapists, Psychologists and Doctors both within and alongside NHS services.

My work includes helping to organise a conference about Supervision, formerly organised by the British Association for Supervision Practice and Research.

My supervisor is a counsellor, coach, and trainer working in both small and large organisational settings.

I was part of national project by the Institute of Psychiatry to supervise & train others to combine Cognitive Behavioural Interventions with Motivational Interviewing Techniques. I have written about individual and family work with someone experiencing a severe and enduring mental illness. I have also co authored a manual for practitioners offering family work to those who experience enduring mental health such as psychosis and dementia.

Publications

Co-author with Gray. R. (2002) ‘Medication Management dissemination project group. Sweetening the pills’. Mental Health Today. February, pages 22-24.

  • This reported on the national dissemination programme about Medication Management co-ordinated by the Institute of Psychiatry. This followed a PhD by Richard Gray, which improved patient outcomes by using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with Motivational Interviewing to increase concordance with antipsychotic medication. I was one of a small number of clinicians invited from across the nation to attend training at the IOP. As an honorary tutor of the IOP I then returned to my locality to train other practitioners to use these techniques when working with service users.

Co-authored with Thompson. R. (2007) ‘Integrating approaches: how family and individual work went beyond managing the illness & transformed Roger’s life’ in Davis. E, Drage. M, Smith. G and Velleman. R. (Eds) Changing Outcomes in Psychosis: Case studies from users, carers and practitioners. Blackwell Publishing. Chapter 5.

  • This chapter was co authored with a service user who had a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. The chapter discusses how I offered individual relapse prevention work, alongside family work, to promote his recovery. It gives the rationale for using evidence based interventions, which are service user focussed

Co-authored with Gina Smith and Karl Gregory. (2007). An Integrated Approach to Family Work for Psychosis. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.

  • This manual is for those working with families or carers of people with severe mental illness, using a structured approach alongside a working relationship. It discusses the core components of family work, why it is offered, who is it for, what it comprises, when it might be offered, where it can be applied and how to do so. It is a practical handbook, which aims to promote recovery from psychosis.
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