More than just a place to talk: Young people's experiences of group psychological therapy as an early intervention for auditory hallucinations

Elizabeth Newton*, Michael Larkin, Ruth Melhuish, Til Wykes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives. Auditory hallucinations are extremely distressing, particularly when occurring during adolescence. They may be most responsive to psychological intervention during a three-year critical period following symptom-onset, but as yet no studies have investigated voices groups for young participants with adolescent-onset psychosis. The aim of the current study is to explore the experience of group-CBT amongst a group of young people experiencing distressing auditory hallucinations. Design. This project was planned and conducted in the tradition of idiographic, qualitative psychology. A small purposive sample was selected, and in-depth, open-ended interviews were conducted, in order to generate and explore rich, experiential accounts which are clearly situated and contextualized. Methods. Eight participants who had completed a cognitive behavioural group intervention were interviewed using a semi-structured interview schedule. The transcribed data were analysed according to the principles of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA; Smith, Osborn, & Jarman, 1999). Results. Two superordinate themes emerged. The first describes experiential features of the respondents' accounts of group therapy. The second theme posits a cyclical relationship between four key factors: the content of the hallucinated voices, the participants' explanations for, and reactions to these voices, and thus, their ability to cope with them. Conclusions. 'Voices groups' are appreciated by young people with auditory hallucinations, as sources of therapy, information, and support. These results suggest a number of testable hypotheses about the efficacy of group treatment and its future development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-149
Number of pages23
JournalPsychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice
Volume80
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007

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