Psychotherapies for the Psychoses: Theoretical, Cultural and Clinical Integration

By John F.M. Gleeson; Eóin Killackey et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 14
Therapeutic group work
for young people with
first-episode psychosis

Gina Woodhead


Introduction

Groups provide an opportunity to practise in vivo the social and coping techniques clients may have learnt in their individual therapy sessions. Group programme workers have observed that group participation can improve daily routines, independence, peer support and the quality of a client’s life. Group work can also be an efficient method for providing information to multiple clients.

This chapter highlights the value of therapeutic group interventions within mental health settings, with particular reference to clients with first-episode psychosis. A search of the literature indicated a paucity of published research with this specific group of patients, so I have also selectively examined literature on psychosocial interventions with a variety of psychiatric populations in order to explore potential common benefits of group interventions.

Young people recovering from psychosis commonly experience a loss of social roles, status and confidence in social situations – therefore group work may be of particular relevance for this group of clients (Albiston et al., 1998). Group interventions can contribute significantly in assisting young people to overcome some of these obstacles. Participating in groups can provide a sense of belonging and encourage individuals to take risks and explore options within the peer group (EPPIC Statewide Services, 2000).

Macdonald et al. (2005) reported that young people recovering from a first episode of psychosis want the same social experiences as healthy young people. They want friendships and support and they want to participate in age-appropriate activities and roles. The authors noted that participating in a recovery group programme offered young people these opportunities. Edwards and McGorry (2002) argued that interventions for first-episode psychosis should focus upon symptom reduction and upon psychosocial domains. They recommended implementing a range of psychosocial strategies during recovery, including group-based interventions.

Evidence-based research on group work for severe mental disorders is limited (McDermott, 2003), and extremely scant in relation to the first-episode

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