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Robin Owen

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board

The Values Programme is an innovative therapeutic approach that has been designed in-house for young people struggling with first episode psychosis (FEP). It is based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and integrates the cycles of change model within the protocol for the delivery of ACT.

Young people with psychosis typically struggle to engage with group therapies for a combination of different reasons. People with psychosis often use avoidant coping strategies which can complicate therapeutic engagement. During the COVID-19 pandemic, online group therapies were well attended, with some group members reflecting that attending an online group was less anxiety provoking. Online groups can also help to overcome issues of rurality and poor travel infrastructure as well as increasing cost effectiveness.

The Values Programme is the first in a succession of three online groups. The first group is 4 sessions long. It is specifically designed to encourage participants to develop motivation to actively engage in therapeutic change. Participants who feel able to commit to change are offered an opportunity to attend a secondary group, ‘The Vitality Programme’. Those who feel unready to commit to therapeutic change may complete ‘The Values Programme’ again at a later point if they wish to do so. ‘The Vitality Programme’ is 6 sessions long. From the outset, participants are encouraged to develop therapeutic targets in accordance with their personal values. This will involve a commitment to change outside of group sessions. Group participants will be encouraged to reflect on their experiences (challenges and successes alike) each week, sharing some of their experiences with other group members as they move towards their values.

The last group is ‘The Resilience Programme’. The function of this 4 session group is to reinforce and maintain the use of the ACT based approaches taught during ‘The Vitality Programme’.