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Peer support groups for unusual beliefs: a qualitative analysis of members’ experiences

Baronian, Roupen (2019) Peer support groups for unusual beliefs: a qualitative analysis of members’ experiences. Other thesis, University of Essex.

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Background: Typically referred to as delusions, unusual beliefs are commonly regarded as symptoms of a psychotic disorder, requiring treatment. Drawing on the Hearing Voices Network’s approach to voice-hearing, peer support groups for unusual beliefs aim at providing mutually supportive environments where members can share their experiences and support eachother. Despite the growth of an active network of unusual beliefs peer support groups, to date, there has been no research in this area. Aims: The present study aimed at exploring participants’ experiences of attending peer support groups for paranoid and unusual beliefs and the impact of group participation, as perceived by members. Methods: The study adopted a qualitative research design. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 participants and data were thematically analysed. Results: Four themes were developed from the data: (1) ‘In search of an ‘oasis’’, reflects the safety and acceptance that the group afforded, as well as situations during which some of the very components that rendered the group a safe and accepting haven, seemed to be jeopardised; (2) ‘Choice means something different here’, explores the ways in which the group enabled participants to reclaim a sense of agency and control which was often either denied or was unavailable in other contexts; (3) ‘This is peer support,not therapy’, captures the group’s non-clinical character and the ways in which participants’ accounts questioned dominant assumptions about the nature of unusual beliefs; and (4) ‘From the ‘I’ to the ‘We’’, explores the sense of community that the group forged for participants. Discussion: This is the first study to explore the Hearing Voices Network approach to unusual beliefs. The implications of the study for the user-led network as well as for clinicians supporting people with distressing or overwhelming beliefs are discussed and suggestions for future research are offered.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Health and Social Care, School of
Depositing User: Roupen Baronian
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2020 11:41
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2020 11:41

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