Therapeutic Accompaniment: An Indispensable Tool

January 25, 2019
Therapeutic accompaniment is a key tool for treating certain cases. Read all about it here!

Psychologists have certain tools that allow them to deal with their patients’ different problems, discomforts, or mental illnesses. One of these tools is therapeutic accompaniment.

Therapeutic accompaniment is applied in the subject’s habitual environment. This means that the psychologist goes out to the street, to the patient’s home, or to any other space that could trigger their patient.

Psychologists only resort to it when other techniques prove insufficient or ineffective. The psychologist then realize that they need to integrate into the patient’s life in order for the patient to improve.

Therapeutic accompaniment facilitates progress

Therapeutic accompaniment helps people with different limitations overcome barriers. These barriers may, for example, keep them from leaving their home or visiting certain places.

This tool can help them improve their autonomy, develop their social skills, and interact with their environment in a healthier way. This can prove very effective for people who suffer from social anxiety, for example.

Three paper doll figures holding hands.

However, for therapeutic accompaniment to be successful, the psychologist must possess certain attitudes and qualities:

  • Presence: The psychologist must be with the patients and share situations and moments with them.
  • Active listening: It’s essential for the patients to express themselves and for the psychologist to give them the necessary time to do so.
  • Respect: The psychologist must show respect in all senses and be open.
  • Empathy: Understanding and a non-judgmental attitude are important.
  • Authenticity: The psychologist must show themselves as they are, although they also need to remain professional at all times.

A case of psychosis

The study “Therapeutic accompaniment: practice and clinic in a psychiatric hospital” details the case of a 66-year-old woman who had been in a mental hospital for seven years because she was diagnosed with postpartum manic-depressive psychosis.

Because pharmacological treatments didn’t help, psychologists talked to her about therapeutic accompaniment. The patient was excited at first, but then her fears began to surface. To help her out, her psychiatrist started to walk around the institution with her.

A close-up of an older woman holding her face in her hands.

In this case, the family’s intervention also proved important. After a while, the patient began to walk around the city away from her safe environment, which for her was the hospital. At first, she rejected the therapist and only said, “I want to go home”. But over the course of a few months, this changed.

She then began visiting her home and taking on certain responsibilities. These included taking care of her daughters and taking her medication. The process was gradual but yielded very good results.

This patient was admitted to the institution because she behaved aggressively with her family and manifested difficult-to-control manic episodes. However, therapeutic accompaniment stabilized her symptoms and allowed her to reintegrate into her family nucleus.

Therapeutic accompaniment helps others start building the ties they had broken.

A tool for difficult situations

As we’ve seen, therapeutic accompaniment is a tool that psychologists can resort to when others haven’t helped.

In addition, people who suffer from agoraphobia, who fear walking through crowded streets, or who fear going inside a supermarket can benefit from therapeutic accompaniment. The psychologist remains at their side, providing support, listening to how the patient feels, observing how they act, and helping them avoid running away from situations that make them uneasy.

As we can see, this technique encourages many people to destroy the barriers that limit them in their daily lives. It allows people to make profound changes and improve their quality of life.

Rosique, María Teresa. “Acompañamiento terapéutico: práctica y clínica en un hospital psiquiátrico.” Revista de la Asociación Española de Neuropsiquiatría. 2014. http://scielo.isciii.es/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0211-57352014000300010