Written by Inga Markiewicz (law assistant and psychologist at the Department of Forensic Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology in Warsaw, Poland)
The main topic of the COST Training School (TS) in Vilnius was: Treatment pathways and aftercare for forensic psychiatric patients. At the Vilnius University, in a very welcoming atmosphere, we were exchanging scientific opinions and practical experiences gathered when working with the forensic patients. The representatives of four member states (Lithuania, Poland, The Netherlands and UK) participated in the above-mentioned event.
Overall logistics was provided by our Lithuanian hosts / the Lithuanian’s COST Action representatives – Ass. Prof. Ilona Cesniene and Prof. Arunas Germanavicius, while the scientific programme was lead by two members of the Core Group of the COST Action 1302 – Mr. Peter Braun and Dr. Erik Bulten.
The TS consisted of lectures, workshops and self-study. The participants had an opportunity to listen to presentations about the theory of ‘recovery’ and the Good Lives Model in the context of Risk Needs Responsibility – principles of forensic psychiatric care.
Taking into account that different countries have different good points and weaknesses in their forensic systems, TS participants characterized the models of forensic psychiatric care in their countries. All good and bad solutions of the systems were analysed in relation to the regulations and common practice, both at the stage of ‘pre-trial’, and the process of diagnosis, as well as detailed studies, risk assessment, comprehensive treatment (bio-psycho-social model), aftercare and discharge aspects.
All contributors of the TS agreed that treatment process and aftercare must involve jurisdictions and legal frameworks to make satisfactory progress within the system and/or in aftercare.
These multi-dimensional analyses and comparisons of various solutions in the system of forensic psychiatry in Lithuania, Poland, England and the Netherlands were used to develop a joint model that can offer guidelines for forensic psychiatry for all European countries. The initial ideas have been put into tables (Table 1) and all participants have been working on them.
The ideas and results of our work during the TS in Vilnius should materialize in a paper with recommendations on best practice in treatment and aftercare in forensic psychiatry (the universal model),
based on the SWOT analysis of the systematic best solutions practiced in individual countries. We started editing the common text during TS and now its final version is being prepared.
The TS in Vilnius was very well organized, broadening our knowledge about forensic systems, treatment and aftercare in different EU countries.
During our TS we had an opportunity to visit the Vilnius City Mental Health Centre, where we saw the facilities and talked with the staff and patients. We all found that field trip very interesting.
Our local organizers also remembered about intellectual, historical, cultural and social activities during TS. We took part in a planned guided tour, visiting many historical places (e.g. Vilnius University Library and Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania) and greatly enjoying excellent national food.
At the end, I would like to thank COST Action IS 1302 and all participants of the TS in Vilnius for providing me with better knowledge, a broader view at the quality of forensic psychiatric care, a number of ideas and solutions that I could draw from the systems of other countries, also for the opportunity to exchange experiences, listen to valuable comments and to take part in constructive discussions in a pleasant working atmosphere.
All in all, the TS in Vilnius has been a very enriching experience.