Friends’ interventions in psychosis: a narrative review and call to action




Chris Harrop, Lyn Ellett, Rachel Brand, Fiona Lobban

Early Intervention in Psychiatry

August 13, 2014






To highlight the importance of friendships to young people with psychosis, and the need for clinical interventions to help maintain peer relationships during illness. To structure a research agenda for developing evidence-based interventions with friends.



An argument is developed through a narrative review of (i) the proven efficacy of family interventions, and (by comparison) a relative absence of friend-based interventions; (ii) the particular primacy of friendships and dating for young people, and typical effects of exclusion; and (iii) reduced friendship networks and dating experiences in psychosis, in pre-, during and post-psychosis phases, also links between exclusion and psychosis.



We put forward a model of how poor friendships can potentially be a causal and/or maintenance factor for psychotic symptoms. Given this model, our thesis is that interventions aiming to maintain social networks can be hugely beneficial clinically for young people with psychosis. We give a case study to show how such an intervention can work.



We call for ‘friends interventions’ for young people with psychosis to be developed, where professionals directly work with a young person's authentic social group to support key friendships and maintain social continuity. An agenda for future research is presented that will develop and test theoretically driven interventions.







Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee