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We have compiled this list of terms which you may come across while your loved one is accessing services with The Retreat. We try to keep the use of clinical terms and jargon to a minimum but do slip up from time to time. If you are ever confused by a term or don't understand what an accronym means please feel free to ask, we promise you won't be the first.

If you can think of a common term we might have missed or would like further information please feel free to contact us or you can refer to this helpful A to Z from Mind.

Advanced Statement and Advanced Decision

There are various types of advanced statements and advanced directives.

They can include a statement of an individual’s wishes in certain circumstances, they can also state who is to be consulted at a time when a decision needs to be made.

The advanced statement is a statement of preference for care.

The advanced directive is a statement to refuse treatment.


An advocate is someone who helps to support a patient through their contact with health services.Advocacy seeks to ensure that people are able to speak out, to express their views and defend their rights.

Advocacy is a process of supporting and enabling people to:

  • express their views and concerns
  • access information and services
  • defend and promote their rights and responsibilities
  • explore choices and options

Anxiety disorders range from feelings of uneasiness to immobilising bouts of terror. At some point in their lives most people will experience anxiety and some nervousness in anticipation of a real situation. However if a person cannot shake unwarranted worries, or if the feelings are jarring to the point of avoiding everyday activities, he or she most likely has an anxiety disorder.

Bipolar Disorder

A mood disorder consisting of very high and then very low changes in personality and behaviour. Previously known as 'manic depression'.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

BPD is one of many personality disorders listed in the manuals used by doctors when they are giving someone a psychiatric diagnosis.

Below are the symptoms of borderline personality disorder according to government guidelines (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE] 2009). A doctor may diagnose you with borderline personality disorder if you have five or more of these symptoms and if the symptoms have a significant impact on your everyday life.

  • You have emotions that are up and down (for example, feeling confident one day and feeling despair another), with feelings of emptiness and often anger.
  • You find it difficult to make and maintain relationships.
  • You have an unstable sense of identity, such as thinking differently about yourself depending on who you are with.
  • You take risks or do things without thinking about the consequences.
  • You harm yourself or think about harming yourself (for example, cutting yourself or overdosing).
  • You fear being abandoned or rejected or being alone.
  • You sometimes believe in things that are not real or true (called delusions) or see or hear things that are not really there (called hallucinations).

If you have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder you may be more likely to experience other mental health related problems, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders or substance misuse (misusing drugs or alcohol).

Caldicott Guardian

The person with responsibility for The Retreat's policies that safeguard the confidentiality of patient information.

Care Co-ordinator

A Care Co-ordinator is the person responsible for making sure that a patient gets the care that they need.

Care Programme Approach (CPA)

The Care Programme Approach is a standardised way of planning a person’s care. It is a multidisciplinary (see definition) approach that includes the patient, and where appropriate, their carer, to develop an appropriate package of support that is acceptable to health professionals, social services and the patient. The Recovery Plan and Care Co-ordinator are important parts of this.


A friend or relative who voluntarily looks after someone who is ill, disabled, vulnerable, or frail. Carers can provide care part-time or full-time.

Clinical Team

A team of health care professionals from different disciplines (e.g. nursing, psychiatry, occupational therapy).

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

This is a way of helping people to cope with stress and emotional difficulties by encouraging them to make the connections between how they think, how they feel, and how they behave.

It focuses on how you think about the things going on in your life – your thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes (your cognitive processes) – and how this impacts on the way you behave and deal with emotional problems. It then looks at how you can change any negative patterns of thinking or behaviour that may be causing you difficulties. In turn, this can change the way you feel.

You will usually attend a session once a week, each session lasting either 50 minutes or an hour. Together with the therapist, you will explore what your problems are and develop a plan for tackling them. You will learn a set of principles that you can apply whenever you need to. You may find them useful long after you have left therapy.

CBT may focus on what is going on in the present rather than the past. However, the therapy may also look at your past and how your past experiences impact on how you interpret the world now.

Community Mental Health Team (CMHT)

If you have a mental health problem, then usually a General Practitioner (GP) will be able to provide your treatment and care. However, if your mental health problem is too complex for a GP to manage, then they may refer you to secondary mental health services. Community Mental Health Teams (CMHTs) are an example of secondary mental health services. You may also hear them called Central Mental Health Teams, Community Support Recovery Teams or Recovery Teams. This differs depending on the area you’re in.

They are made up of different mental health professionals from health and social care backgrounds that work together to help you get better. A team may be based within a central clinic or office in the community but can also work in different areas such as GP surgeries or health centres. They can also visit you in your own home if necessary. This tends to vary depending on the NHS Mental Health Trust.

Generally speaking, CMHTs are for people aged 18-65. There are specialist mental health teams for under 18 year olds (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and for over 65 year olds (sometimes referred to as Older People’s Community Mental Health Teams).

Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN)

A specialist nurse who works within a local community to assess needs as well as plan and evaluate programmes of care. You may get a CPN when working with a Community Mental Health Team (CMHT)


A mental health crisis is a sudden and intense period of severe mental distress.


Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer's is the most common type of dementia.

Dementia is not a specific disease. It's an overall term that describes a wide range of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills severe enough to reduce a person's ability to perform everyday activities.


Depression is a mood disorder characterised by intense feelings of sadness that persist beyond a few weeks. It is associated with many physical symptoms such as disturbance of sleep, appetite, and concentration. Depressed people often feel tired, guilty and can find normal life extremely difficult.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT is a therapy designed to help people change patterns of behavior that are not effective, such as self-harm, suicidal thinking and substance abuse. This approach works towards helping people increase their emotional and cognitive regulation by learning about the triggers that lead to reactive states and helping to assess which coping skills to apply in the sequence of events, thoughts, feelings and behaviors that lead to the undesired behaviour.

Marsha Linehan developed DBT from cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and adapted it to meet the emotional needs of people diagnosed with BPD. DBT has traditionally focused on helping people change unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving. 

DBT also helps you to change, but it differs from CBT in that it focuses on accepting who you are at the same time. DBT therapists aim to balance ‘acceptance techniques’ with ‘change techniques’.

Acceptance techniques

Acceptance techniques focus on understanding and making sense of you as a person and the things you do. With these techniques, DBT therapists might point out that your behaviour (e.g. self-harming or using drugs) makes sense, even if it is not in your best interest in the long-term. It is often the only way you have learned to deal with intense emotions and has helped you to get through very difficult experiences. 

In DBT finally someone is saying 'yes, it makes sense' rather than 'no, that's wrong’.

Change techniques

DBT therapists use change techniques to encourage you to change your behaviour and learn more effective ways of dealing with your distress. They encourage you to replace behaviours that are harmful to you with behaviours that can help you move forward with your life.

Having a ‘pushy’ therapist in DBT kept me on track with making changes in my life.

The therapeutic relationship

If you have BPD, you may find that relationships are a key factor in keeping you alive and motivated. Therefore, DBT places particular importance on the relationship between you and your therapist, and this relationship is used to motivate you to change.

Dual Diagnosis

When a person has two or more problems or disorders affecting them at same time.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour.

A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health.

Types of eating disorders

Eating disorders include a range of conditions that can affect someone physically, psychologically and socially. The most common eating disorders are: 

  • Anorexia nervosa – when someone tries to keep their weight as low as possible, for example by starving themselves or exercising excessively.
  • Bulimia – when someone tries to control their weight by binge eating and then deliberately being sick or using laxatives (medication to help empty their bowels).
  • Binge eating – when someone feels compelled to overeat.

Some people, particularly young people, may be diagnosed with an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). This means you have some, but not all, of the typical signs of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.

Family Therapy

This form of therapy involves all relevant members of a family, placing importance on the family as a pathway toward helping to treat the patient.

Formal (Formal Patient)

A formal patient is a person who has been detained in hospital under a section of the Mental Health Act (1983).

General Practitioner (GP)

GPs are family doctors who provide general health services to a local community. They are usually based in a GP surgery or practice and are often the first place people go with a health concern.


A term often used in the health profession when talking about treating a person as a whole rather than focusing on individual aspects. It means taking into consideration as much about a person as possible in the treatment of an illness – this includes their physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social needs.


An informal patient is a person in hospital voluntarily. Most people admitted to hospital are informal patients.


Inpatient care is the care of patients whose condition requires admission to a hospital. Progress in modern medicine and the advent of comprehensive out-patient clinics ensure that patients are only admitted to a hospital when they are extremely ill or are have severe physical trauma.


An ‘intervention’ describes any treatment or support that is given to someone who is unwell. An intervention could be medication, a talking therapy, or an hour spent with a volunteer.

Mental Health Act (1983)

The Mental Health Act is a law that allows for the compulsory detention of people in hospital for assessment and treatment of a mental illness.

Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT)

Multidisciplinary teams consist of staff from several different professional backgrounds who have different areas of expertise. At The Retreat we ensure that each unit has a full MDT with access to a wide range of skills and specialisms.

Named Nurse

This is a unit nurse who will have a special responsibility for a patient while they are in hospital.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a chronic, relapsing illness. People who have it suffer from recurrent and unwanted thoughts or rituals. The obsessions and the need to perform rituals can take over a person's life if left untreated. They feel they cannot control these thoughts or rituals.

Occupational Therapists (OT)

Occupational therapy, often called OT, is the use of treatments to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of people with a physical, mental or developmental condition. Occupational therapy is a patient-centered practice that places a premium on the progress towards the patient’s goals.

Occupational therapy interventions focus on adapting the environment, modifying the task, teaching the skill, and educating the patient/family in order to increase participation in and performance of daily activities, particularly those that are meaningful to the patient. Occupational therapy often involves physical therapy.

Occupational Therapy began at The Retreat.


A person who is not hospitalised but who visits a hospital, clinic, or associated facility for diagnosis or treatment. Outpatient care often takes place in the community to ensure people don't need to leave their homes to access treatment.


Someone who uses health services. This is the standard term used at The Retreat when we talk about someone who accesses our inpatient services. Some people use the terms service user or client instead.


A specialist health professional who makes, dispenses, and sells medicines.


A doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of people who are mentally ill. Psychiatrists have undergone specialist training and may diagnose illness, prescribe medication and other forms of appropriate treatment. They also decide whether to admit people to, and discharge people from, hospital.


A mental state in which someone may show confused thinking, think that people are watching them, and see, feel, or hear things that other people cannot.

Recovery Plan

A Recovery Plan is a written plan that describes the care and support staff will give. People should be fully involved in developing and agreeing the Recovery Plan, sign it and keep a copy.


Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterised by "positive" and "negative" symptoms. Psychotic, or positive, symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, and disordered thinking (apparent from a person's fragmented, disconnected and sometimes nonsensical speech). Negative symptoms include social withdrawal, extreme apathy, diminished motivation, and blunted emotional expression.

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