Posted on: 11 May 2021

On Tuesday 20 April, CNWL held a launch event to discuss the services which are currently provided for people diagnosed with Complex Emotional Needs associated with Personality Disorder. The event was used to outline key findings from patient focus groups held in late 2020, and to invite further discussion from a range of managers, clinicians, patients and carers. Over 80 people attended the event overall.

Fiona Kuhn Thompson, Lived Experience Consultant to the CEN Pathway, introduced the event. She set out the mission statement of “shining light in dark corners of people’s lives” and set out the objectives of the day:

  • Introducing the CEN Pathway and its development so far
  • Presenting findings from the 2020 focus groups which were attended by 21 service users from across CNWL boroughs
  • Inviting attendees to evaluate findings and discuss further ways of moving forward

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Tracey James, CNWL Operational Lead for CEN Pathway, presented on the methodology and results of the focus groups. She said: “we are going to use the feedback and experiences of patients across the Trust who have told us what it’s actually like to receive treatment in this kind of service.”

Mike Crawford, Consultant Psychiatrist, spoke more specifically on Primary Care as this is the area in which most CEN patients are treated. He talked about some of the approaches that staff in primary care can use to support people in a face-to-face capacity: “Non-validating statements like “why are you getting so upset about this?” or “pull yourself together” can compound the problems people are already experiencing… We should be mindful of what validation is and consider whether our language recognises and supports people, as opposed to undermining them”.

Everyone was then split into a series of breakout rooms to share thoughts and discuss areas for improvement. Here are just several suggestions put forward by staff and service users:

  • Training should be offered to staff at all levels within the service including GPs, receptionists, duty staff and administrative staff, contributing to a culture change in how we view and manage complexity
  • A range of different interventions should be used depending on specific cases; not just Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Ensure present and available aftercare
  • The Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Partnerships are providing people with good support within the community – the more the better 
  • Desire for more communications with service users on waiting lists – forms of support should be maintained
  • Action must be taken beyond this launch event 

Throughout the event, attendees were invited to vote on what their priorities would be for any future implementation. The results can be seen in the slides below:

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In the feedback session, Christopher Whiteley, Chief Psychologist for CNWL, said: “I’m not sure that I’ve heard of anything as coordinated or strategic as this in many Trusts… Staff and Service User engagement has been appropriately built in. I’m very hopeful that this work will influence our services considerably.”

For more information on the CEN pathway, please email or