Young adults’ dynamic relationships with their families in early psychosis: Identifying relational strengths and supporting relational agency

Zoe Boden-Stuart, Michael Larkin, Chris Harrop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Most existing research on the family context of psychosis focuses on the ‘burden’ of caring for people experiencing psychosis. This research is the first to ask young people experiencing early psychosis to ‘map’ and describe their experiences and understandings of their family relationships, and how they have related to their psychosis and recovery. Design: The research took an inductive, multi-modal hermeneutic-phenomenological approach (Boden & Eatough, 2014). Method: Ten young adults (18-23), under the care of Early Intervention in Psychosis services in the UK, participated in an innovative Relational Mapping Interview (Boden, Larkin & Iyer, 2018), which invited participants to draw a subjective ‘map’ of their important relationships. This visual methodology enables subtle, complex, ambivalent and ambiguous aspects of the participants’ experiences to be explored. Results: Findings explore the participants’ accounts of how they love, protect and care for their families; how they wrestle with family ties as they mature; and their feelings about talking about their mental health with loved ones, which was typically very difficult. Conclusions: This paper advances understanding of recovery in psychosis through consideration of the importance of reciprocity, and the identification and nurturance of relational strengths. The capacity of a young person to withdraw or hold back when trying to protect others is understood as an example of relational agency. The possibility for extending strengths-based approaches and family work within the context of Early Intervention in Psychosis services are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Keywords

  • psychosis
  • family
  • care
  • strengths-based approach
  • attachment
  • Early intervention in psychosis
  • reciprocity
  • relational agency
  • social withdrawal
  • social networks

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