Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 88 Issue 2 (June 2015), Pages 127-226

Stages of recovery in early psychosis: Associations with symptoms, function, and narrative development (pages 127-142)


This study sought to explore the links between recovery stages, symptoms, function, and narrative development among individuals with a recent onset of psychosis.


A qualitative longitudinal study was conducted including quantitative data at baseline.


Forty‐seven participants were administered the Indiana Psychiatric Illness Interview three times over 9 months and content analysis was performed. Participants also completed the Social Functioning Scale, the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale – Expanded, the California Verbal Learning Test, and the Trailing Making Test at baseline. Descriptive discriminant analysis was performed.


Results suggested that participants were mostly in the first two stages of recovery (moratorium, awareness) and that being in the awareness, rather than moratorium, stage was associated, to a different extent, with richer narrative development, better levels of psychosocial function, less negative and positive symptoms, and more years of education. Furthermore, recovery appeared to be a stable process over the assessment period.


Recovery is a complex concept including objective and subjective aspects. In the recovery path of persons recently diagnosed with psychosis, social engagement, narrative development, and occupational functioning seem to be particularly important aspects. This study is a first step, and future research is needed with larger and more diverse participant pools, and assessments conducted over longer periods of time.

Practitioner points

  • As greater level of social engagement was the most robust predictor of membership in the awareness versus moratorium stage, treatment of early psychosis should include interventions targeting social relations and social skills.
  • As greater narrative development was the second most robust predictor, enhancing it via psychotherapy could be a pertinent clinical goal.

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