Research Article

Nurse therapists in behavioural psychotherapy.

Br Med J 1975; 3 doi: (Published 19 July 1975) Cite this as: Br Med J 1975;3:144
  1. I M Marks,
  2. R S Hallam,
  3. R Philpott,
  4. J C Connolly


    Five registered mental nurses (R.M.N.s) were trained over two years to become behavioural psychotherapists for adult neurotic disorders. They achieved results comparable to those obtained with similar patients and methods by psychologists and psychiatrists. Similar results were maintained when over a third year the therapists were seconded to work in four hospitals and a general practice. Patients were satisfied at being treated by nurses. After initial teething difficulties nurse therapists became valuable members of treatment teams during both training and secondment, becoming accepted by most nurses, psychologists, and psychiatrists with whom they came into contact. The training of further nurse therapists would facilitate treatment of many disabled neurotics who would otherwise go without effective treatment. Training nurse therapists takes less time and money than training psychologists and psychiatrists because less of their education is redundant to the skills involved. The pool of R.M.N.s suitable for training is much larger than that of psychiatrists and psychologists. The nurse therapists can be integrated relatively easily into treatment teams. The present nursing structure imposes restrictions on the advancement of clinical nurse specialists and a clinical tree is badly needed parallel with present administrative and teaching hierarchies. An 18-month course in adult behavioural psychotherapy has been recognized by the Joint Board of Clinical Nursing Studies for England and Wales so that nurse therapists seem destined to be a lasting feature of future treatment teams.