Can an 8-week Psychotherapy Group Work for an Early Psychosis Patient Population? Yes and Here’s How

Poster C20, Wednesday, October 10, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm, Essex Ballroom

Julie Beaulac1,2, Elham Sadeh1,2; 1First Episode Psychosis Program, The Ottawa Hospital, 2Ottawa Hospital Research Institute

Contextual CBT approaches to psychotherapy have demonstrated themselves to be effective in quickly leading to improvements in functioning. Rather than symptom reduction or getting rid of difficult thoughts, the focus of these interventions typically involves changing our relationship with thoughts, feelings, and other internal experiences while increasing our engagement in important life activities. Change is understood to take place through the mechanism of increased psychological flexibility, the source of suffering and psychological difficulties identified within this transdiagnostic approach to psychotherapy. As psychosis commonly involves social withdrawal, group interventions are particularly relevant for providing opportunities for social connection while teaching skills for relating differently to uncomfortable or distressing internal experiences. Recent research has supported the value of contextual CBT approaches for psychosis including the importance of reducing experiential avoidance and enhancing psychological flexibility. This presentation will provide an overview of the 8-week contextual CBT psychotherapy group that has been running at an outpatient first episode psychosis clinic since 2017, including the process of delivering this treatment. Patient attendance and satisfaction were high, suggesting this treatment as accessible to a first episode psychosis population. Findings from a pre-post design will show the impact of this treatment on patient self-reported general distress and functioning, mindfulness, recovery, and psychological flexibility, as assessed by means of repeated measures ANOVAs. In addition, 3-4 month follow-up data will provide information on the sustainability of the treatment impact. Other program innovations including a monthly booster group will be discussed.

Topic Area: Psychosocial Interventions

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