Preliminary findings from a recovery-based psycho-educational group programme for adults with dual diagnoses

This source preferred by Margarete Parrish

Authors: Parrish, M.

Start date: 5 September 2013

Abstract: (300 words)

Our presentation addresses some of the benefits of a 10-week group intervention provided to meet the complex needs of adults with dual diagnoses (Serious Mental Illness and co-existing Substance-related disorders) over an 18-month period. Using a recovery-based approach, group work was one part of an on-going study to examine the treatment needs and the effectiveness of services for adults with complex needs. Participants included adults with a wide range of mental health conditions, lifestyles, and varied drugs of choice. Four standardised screening instruments were administered to participants as pre- and post-measures of their general mental health. The measures addressed psychiatric symptoms including psychoses, anxiety and depression, as well as substance usage and overall mental well-being/quality of life. Group sessions were psycho-educational, and included discussions of relevant harm-reduction strategies, realistic goal-setting, affirmation work, as well as finding ways to acknowledge and endorse incremental changes among group members. Participants consistently noted the importance of the development of trust and hopefulness amongst group members. The group’s capacity to provide a safe environment for intimate discussions and disclosures featured prominently in participants’ feedback. The role played by trauma was a frequent point of discussion. By integrating mental health and substance-use services, participants were provided consistent and supportive means of achieving positive change without the often-cited difficulties of navigating two different and complicated bureaucracies. Recovery principles were applied in ways that emphasised autonomy and wellness as defined by the individual participants, rather than the mental health establishment. The development of therapeutic relationships among group members as well as with those facilitating group sessions will be discussed. Factors linked with high retention rates, improved mental health symptoms and decreased substance usage will also be discussed. Participants described their experiences as “life-altering”. Measurable changes following the intervention appear to endorse the recovery-based approach.

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