What are the Positive Changes Youth Experience Following a First Episode of Psychosis?

Poster C32, Saturday, October 22, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Le Baron

Gerald Jordan1, Tovah Cowan2, Ashok Malla1, Srividya N Iyer1; 1McGill University, 2Concordia University

Introduction: Of all mental disorders affecting youth, a first episode of psychosis (FEP) is arguably the most severe. However, FEP may also present an opportunity for positive, transformational change in youth, an area which has received very little attention. This presentation will answer two questions: 1) What positive, transformational changes do youth experience following FEP, and 2) What factors or processes do youth feel facilitate such changes? Methods: A qualitative descriptive design guided the project. Data were gathered through semi-structured interviews conducted with ten purposefully sampled youth with FEP receiving early intervention services. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and subject to thematic analysis using a combination of inductive and deductive methods by two researchers. Results: Youth described how FEP led them to feel stronger, more grounded, and more authentic in their interactions and lifestyle choices; gain self-awareness, maturity, and purpose in life; develop stronger, wiser connections with others; and give back in the form of community engagement. Youth identified processes inherent in early intervention services as facilitators of their positive transformation, including receiving treatment by humane, empathetic and competent clinicians who emphasize their personal and creative strengths; receiving psychotherapy; and taking medication. Participants also identified having strong social support as key. Conclusions: In addition to causing suffering, FEP can be a transformative experience which can be facilitated by early intervention services and through social support. These findings provide an evidence base that early intervention services can draw from in order to better provide positive, hopeful, strengths-based services to youth experiencing FEP.

Topic Area: Service System Development and Reform

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