Clinical psychologists’ use of transformative models of psychosis

“Evidence suggests that some ‘psychotic’ crises, whilst painful, can also be transformative, leading to personal growth and valued outcomes.”

This research paper has been published in Counselling & Psychotherapy and co-authored by Dr. Anne Cooke and Dr. Caroline Brett. The abstract says:

“Some theories (e.g. Jackson’s Paradigm Shifting Hypothesis) and many personal accounts suggest that some psychotic crises, whilst distressing, can also be transformative, leading to growth and valued outcomes. However, little is known about the extent to which this idea informs mainstream mental health care.

Clinical psychologists are influential advocates of psychosocial approaches more broadly: This study explored their use of transformative models. Twelve U.K. clinical psychologists were interviewed: Transcripts informed a grounded theory. No participants saw psychosis as a purely biological problem where the content of experiences is irrelevant. Two held a ‘biopsychosocial’ model, viewing psychosis as an illness with psychosocial elements. Most either held a continuum view (i.e., schizotypy), in which psychosis proneness was also associated with positive attributes such as creativity or sensitivity, or a ‘fully psychological’ view, seeing experiences as meaningful and/or as adaptive responses to events. Many believed that psychosis can be transformative in a broad sense, that is, lead to ‘post‐traumatic growth.’ Some went further, believing that it can be a purposeful (e.g., an attempt, albeit painful and sometimes unsuccessful, to solve problems) or even a spiritual phenomenon.

Participants’ perspectives influenced their therapeutic approach: Those who saw experiences as purposeful were more likely to facilitate direct engagement with them and to support clients to explore potentially transformative aspects. However, this represented an extension of conventional approaches rather than being qualitatively different. More research is needed to clarify how widespread this approach is, to explore its utility, and to establish for whom and when it may be appropriate …”

You can find out more from here.

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