E. Sadeh, C. Morris, C. Des Lauriers
Group interventions such as recreation and leisure based groups are an appropriate means for offering treatment to individuals experiencing first episode psychosis. Community based recreation and leisure groups not only reduce isolation, decrease depression, increase self-concept, and improve social functioning, but also provide an opportunity to support clients to reengage and connect in their community. However, participation of clients struggling with acute psychosis in the groups is not without risks. To improve safety for both clients and group facilitators, prevent adverse events, and enhance emphasis on treatment and recovery based goals, our program developed a safety screening tool to assess all clients who expressed interest in group participation. An occupational therapist or recreational therapist used the screening tool to assess client’s suitability for the groups as well as to identify their recovery based goals prior to participation in the groups. The implementation of the group screening assessment resulted in more appropriate clients joining the community based recreation and leisure based groups, provided a safer environment for clients and staff, decreased adverse events, and eliminated the occurrence of unknown clients attending the groups. This intervention highlighted that safer community based interventions provide opportunities to deliver high quality treatment and facilitating community integration in First Episode Psychosis programs.