Research Heroes of the Month - May

Celebrating the Acute Liaison Psychiatry Team (ALPS)

Research heroes are individuals who are part of a hidden army of staff supporting research across the organisation. We want to take the opportunity to celebrate their contribution and thank them for making a difference.

This month we celebrate the work of the Acute Liaison Psychiatry Team (ALPS), who for 18 months have been recruiting and providing therapies to service users as part of the Fresh Start study. Through ALPS’ hard work and commitment LYPFT are the top recruiting site in the study, which seeks to evaluate modified psychological therapies for people who self-harm.

Donna Hanson (pictured here with Clinical Head Ruth Cafferty), who is the Clinical Team Manager, has championed the research from the startDonna-Hanson-CTM-and-Ruth-Cafferty-Practice-Development-Practitioner-Clinical-Lead explains how the study became embedded in the team’s practice: “When ALPS were asked to participate in the recruitment of service users into the Fresh Start programme, the staff quickly became involved. We included Fresh Start as a regular agenda item in our team business meetings to ensure everyone was committed to the programme. Fresh Start soon became part of the culture in ALPS and we were regularly making referrals.”

Donna noted the benefits of the research, both directly for the service users and in gaining a greater understanding of the issues that affect them: “This programme has proved invaluable for some of the service users we see where therapy can be difficult to access. Research helps to improve future services and gain a deeper understanding of the topic”.

Several members of the team trained in and delivered the adapted therapies.

Christie Smith, a Liaison Mental Health Nurse in ALPS and a Fresh Start Therapist, explains her experience of this: “I have worked in the ALPS team for 11 years this year and completed 100’s possibly 1000’s of self-harm assessments. I thought I understood self-harm fully, I was wrong. This research/therapy programme has changed my approach to services users who self-harm and I find I focus more on thoughts and feelings and the role that self-harm plays for the service user. I also see myself adapting approaches from therapy in the assessments I have undertaken with service users.”

The success of this study at LYPFT has been due to a true team effort, and the R&D Team would like to thank everyone involved.

Any staff interested to know more about research and how they can promote it within their service can contact the research department at

Visit the R&D website for more information about LYPFT research studies.