Dissertation Title:

Subjective Experiences of Treatment for Psychosis: A Phenomenological Analysis


Crystal C. Ramirez

Date, Time & Place:

July 17, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Townhouse, Lambert Road Campus


Two of the hallmark symptoms for psychoses are hallucinations and delusions, indicating to mental health practitioners that the person is experiencing a form of nonconsensual reality. These patients are not given the same opportunities to collaborate in the planning for their treatment as those who are being treated for other conditions. Psychosis is a condition with myriad and controversial theories of etiology and treatment, leading to great variations in treatment outcomes. This research offers a perspective on the subjective experience of people being treated for psychosis in the modern mental health system in the United States by documenting how they think and feel about the treatment they are receiving. The method of inquiry was an interpretative phenomenological analysis with six people responding to 15 questions in a semi-structured interview that included questions about what has been beneficial and not beneficial in accessing therapeutic support for their distressing experiences and what advice they would give to mental health workers.
All participants reported having a positive experience in the study, which indicates the value of asking people about their mental health treatment. Several of the participants explicitly stated that they had never shared, much less had been asked to share, their experiences of treatment throughout sometimes decades of having received treatment for a mental health diagnosis. Advice participants wished to give to mental health workers included being more compassionate and expressing authentic caring, encouraging recovery as opposed to dependency, and instilling hope. Some benefits of current treatments noted by participants included frequent contact with mental health workers in a range of capacities including the development of relaxation skills and activities of daily living (ADLs), family therapy, and individual psychotherapy. This research indicates the following areas for improvement in the treatment of psychosis: focusing on the development of the therapeutic relationship, including active listening and authentic concern; including the patient in the development of goal setting and treatment planning; and focusing on recovery with an attitude of hope.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology with Emphasis in Psychotherapy, Track T, 2007
  • Chair: Dr. Lionel Corbett
  • Reader: Dr. Priscilla Taylor
  • External Reader: Dr. Paris Williams
  • Keywords: Schizophrenia, Psychosis, Madness, Recovery Approach