Early Psychosis Meets Sex: Clients' and Clinicians’ Perspectives on the Intersections of Sex, Sexuality, Symptoms and Recovery

Poster B107, Friday, October 21, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Le Baron

Nev Jones1, Julia Godzikovskaya1, Adriana Furuzawa1, Dina Tyler1, Zhen Zhao1, Mona Shattell2; 1Felton Institute, 2Rush University

Objective: The intersection of early psychosis with sex, sexuality and romantic experience is an important but neglected area of early intervention scholarship. The primary aim of our project was to better understand young people’s struggles with sexual identity, sex-related symptom content, and past or current sexual experiences. Methods: We conducted 25 client interviews, 2 client focus groups, 5 clinician interviews and 4 clinician focus groups including clients and clinicians of both standard and specialty early intervention services. Transcripts were systematically coded for themes related to sex, sexuality, gender identity, and sexual experience. The project was collaboratively developed and analyzed by persons with personal experience of psychosis. Results: Participants included 45 clients and 26 clinicians. Analysis of client transcripts revealed frequent intersections between sexual and/or romantic experiences and the development of psychosis; past experiences of assault or gender-related bullying that continued to play out in symptom content; and active concerns about sex, psychosis and future romantic relationships. A subset of participants explicitly framed psychosis onset as a reaction to sexual trauma or what they perceived to be “deviant” sexual behavior. Clinicians expressed a clear understanding of the importance of addressing sex/sexuality in clinical work, but repeatedly indicated that they felt under-prepared to do so. Conclusions: Clients’ sexual experiences are clinically relevant and often centrally important to clients themselves. Our analyses underscore the importance of more fully addressing these experiences within EIP services and suggest potential starting points for intervention development and refinement.

Topic Area: Psychosocial Interventions

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