A Mindfulness Based Support Group for Families in Early Psychosis: A pilot qualitative study

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David Whitehorn
Mary E Campbell
Patricia Cosgrove
Sabina Abidi
Philip Tibbo


Background and Objectives: To explore a mindfulness-based support group for parents of young people in care for a first episode of psychosis with an Early Intervention Service (EIS).

Material and Methods: Family members in EIS were recruited for a one year research protocol with eight group sessions during which mindfulness practices were introduced.  Participants were supported in developing an ongoing mindfulness practice.  Focus groups and individual interviews provided data for qualitative analysis of participant experience.

Results: Participants reported that mindfulness practice was associated with (1) a greater sense of ease (2) increased awareness, (3) less emotional reactivity, and (4) improved interpersonal relationships.   Factors involved in developing a sustained mindfulness practice included the age and stage of illness of the offspring, the stage of family development and prior exposure to mindfulness.     

Conclusions: Sustained mindfulness practice, developed in the context of a mindfulness-based family support group, can provide support in regard to coping and communication for parents of young people in care for a first episode of psychosis.   Further exploration of the use of mindfulness to support families encountering mental illness seems warranted.  



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Author Biography

Philip Tibbo, Nova Scotia Health Authority Dalhousie University

Professor, Dalhousie University Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine

Director, Nova Scotia Early Psychosis Program, Nova Scotia Health Authority

Dr. Paul Janssen Chair in Psychotic Disorders


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