Fairfield University professor Kathleen Wheeler's new book lauded for being "a major contribution to the discipline of nursing"


Fairfield University School of Nursing Professor Kathleen Wheeler, Ph. D., A.P.R.N., has written a new book entitled, Psychotherapy for the Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse, (Elsevier Health Sciences, 2007), which has been lauded as being a major contribution to the discipline of nursing.

In a review in the journal, Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, the book is described by Dr. Margaret England of the University of Windsor in Ontario, Canada as a well-done primer that serves as a major contribution to the discipline of nursing in showing advanced practice psychiatric nurses how to practice psychotherapy, complete with "excellent examples" and resources that illustrate specific aspects of the nurse's role.

England writes, "The refreshing focus on trauma and implicit memory as organizing pillars of psychotherapy is especially helpful... The author aptly lays out a holistic paradigm for advanced psychiatric nursing (APN) practice by drawing upon a neuroscience of information processing, human development, attachment theory, and trauma.... In general, the text establishes a strong evidentiary basis for what to say and do while delivering 'good' psychiatric care and therapy."

Judith Haber, Ph. D., associate dean for graduate programs of New York University's College of Nursing, who wrote the forward to the book, called it "a groundbreaking book that heralds a new generation of important psychiatric nursing literature." "The in depth examination of psychotherapeutic models used to achieve quality clinical outcomes is enhanced by presentation of the 'best available evidence' to support the efficacy of psychotherapy. A neuroscience foundation that informs the biological basis for the effectiveness of psychotherapy is crucial to establishing the psychotherapy as more than a healing art, and enters it into the realm of science and evidence-based practice."

The how-to book contains practical techniques and interventions, without a lot of theoretical jargon, to equip nurse psychotherapists with the tools to give patients comprehensive psychiatric care and therapy. It includes step-by-step guides to build nurse-patient relationships for all patient populations, including children and older adults, with a special emphasis on working with traumatized patients.

When Dr. Wheeler was tracking down resources to teach, "Mental Health Nursing of Individuals" at Fairfield, she couldn't find a textbook with the most salient, evidence-based psychotherapy approaches that students needed to know. Worse, no books were directly applicable to the advanced practice psychiatric nurse, and the majority that had been published were not written by and for nurses. This prompted Dr. Wheeler to write the book, because it was a way to fill a void in this area of educating nurses. Her intention was that it provide a foundation for the novice nurse psychotherapist to build toward proficiency and expertise, as well as a refresher for those who are experienced Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurse (APPN) psychotherapists.

She said that Fairfield nursing students helped inspire her. "I have learned from my students what is essential for them to know in caring for patients and it informed the writing of the book. Their experiences with patients also proved helpful to me in putting together the resources in it."

Topics of the book include the basics of psychotherapy, from how to respond to a patient's initial call for help to when care can be terminated. It features helpful forms and diagnostic tools common to psychotherapy. Also explored in detail is how to integrate psychopharmacology and psychotherapy.

Dr. Wheeler, who has been a faculty member of Fairfield University's School of Nursing since 1992, is an advanced practice psychiatric nurse specializing in trauma with certifications as a clinical specialist in adult psychiatric nursing, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, hypnosis, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).She has had a private practice in psychiatric nursing for the past 25 years.

Fairfield University recently awarded Dr. Wheeler a senior summer fellowship, which is a competitive research grant given by the University to a senior faculty member. Her project is entitled, "An Outcome Study of Psychotherapy Patients Treated with EMDR." Dr. Wheeler developed the University's Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program in 1994, making it the only one of its kind in the state at the time. In 2003, Dr. Wheeler served as co-chair of the national panel that developed the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Competencies; and in 2004, she was awarded the American Psychiatric Nurses Association for Excellence in Education and the Distinguished Alumni of Cornell University-New York Hospital School of Nursing. She is the author of numerous publications, and has presented at national and international conferences.

Bookmark and Share

Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 7, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 176