Standards for professional training and practice are defined by accrediting organisations or statutory bodies. These describe the arena in which the practitioner may speak with authority. The sphere of authorised practice is further delineated by the external resources available. Within this explicit framework, unconscious mental processes can affect the professional response in potentially adverse ways. This is particularly important in mental health practice. Professionals must be prepared to examine their own responses on this basis in order to enhance their knowledge of the patient and minimise the possibilities of the patient becoming the victim of the professional's own psychopathology. The maintenance of such a position in an institution or organisation requires a similar process within its structure in order to provide the necessary setting and define the limits of good practice. In this paper, the field of adolescent mental health is specifically examined.
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