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The Aeschi Working Group

MEETING THE SUICIDAL PERSON

The therapeutic approach to the suicidal patient

 
 
     

Reflections on Aeschi II: A Participant's Perspective

 
 
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Experiencing the Aeschi Approach - A Participant’s Reflections on the 2nd Aeschi Conference, March 6-9, 2002.

As someone working in a hospital in Denmark as part of a project to establish an offer of interviews to suicidal patients, I found my way to the Aeschi approach through an internet link. What immediately caught my interest and that of my two colleagues was the distinctly patient-orientated stance permeating the various website entries. The thematic organisation of the material was both apt and concise, and the references to the literature provided a ‘guided tour’ of the contributions made to the field by the Aeschi group. It was thus with high expectations that our Danish group ascended to the exquisite Alpine location for this promising event.

The Aeschi Meeting in several ways fulfilled my expectations, and more. There was a balanced mix between papers and workshops and ample time for discussion - the latter being enhanced by the generous readiness of the more senior people in the field to share their views and experiences with relative new-comers. Also the variety of nationalities represented, ranging from the West Coast of America well into Eastern Europe, carried with it a wealth in outlook and cultural background which endowed the presentations as well as discussions with an exciting pluralism that, due to the contained number of participants, nicely eschewed the danger of degenerating into a Tower of Babel.

The most central issue that stood out in approaching the suicidal person was perhaps one of solidarity or empathy, enabling an actual encounter with the other person. The content and emphasis of such a possible meeting might vary from a joint reflective assessment of a recent suicide attempt, to an attentiveness towards the narrative or even linguistic elements of the other person’s discourse, to an exploration of suicidality extending to the very treating professionals themselves. As such, the Aeschi approach distinguishes itself from a traditional medical procedure, where diagnostics and ensuing treatment models aim to restore the patient to some kind of normality or good health from a state that, however, remains pathologised. While not disavowing psychiatric or psychological expertise - the Aeschi group comprising in fact some excellent professionals in this field - the refreshing contribution of this working group consists precisely in its trust in the supreme validity of the experience of the suicidal person.

Subsequently, the Aeschi experience has vitalised our work; and in our teaching of other health professionals on how to meet the suicidal person, the voices of Aeschi are getting a good hearing. As a participant, I remain most grateful to the organisers and can warmly recommend this event for its high professional standards and an atmosphere of dialogue and personal exchange which will hopefully carried into the future. The Aeschi approach offers an opportunity for an encounter, the mode of which one could only wish would disseminate into the responses given to people for whom suicide unfortunately remains a looming prospect.

Michael Münchow, M.A., psychotherapist
Copenhagen County University Hospital
Dept. of Psychiatry
DK 2600 Glostrup
Denmark

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The Guidelines for Clinicians 1st Aeschi Conference 2nd Aeschi Conference 3rd Aeschi Conference 4th Aeschi Conference 5th Aeschi Conference 6th Aeschi Conference
The usual clinical practice Clinicians' attitudes Patients' dissatisfaction Non-attendance in aftercare Treatment failures New perspectives Patients' narratives
Patients' inner experiences Joining the patient CAMS The Narrative Action
Theoretical (NAT) approach
Mental pain The Aeschi Group Publications
Links Hotel Aeschi Park Destination Aeschi THE BOOK