The importance of interaction and participation in nursing practice and of ensuring positive relation experiences for patients and nurses has been widely acknowledged in literature. There is a considerable body of literature related to nursing practice within practical aspects like the effectiveness of practice and discussions of the adapted models. However, only a small part of the existing literature describes how nurses practice interaction and participation in the mental health field. The aim of this article is to describe interaction and user participation as experienced by the health personnel and users. Method: qualitative interviews with eleven persons: five nurses, one activity-therapist and five users in Norway in 2005. Kvale’s (1997) three phases inspired the analysis of the material, namely: self-understanding, critical understanding based on common sense, and theoretical understanding.

Result: A) the building of relationships based on trust B) empowering the strong points of the users C) learning to make one’s own decisions in life.

Conclusion: The experiences of health personnel and users of their roles will have impact on how they understand and act in practice. The relationship between nurses and users, and the learning possibilities at a User Centre, influence the mental health of the users.