2011, Number 6
The need-adapted integrated treatment in Sant Pere Claver-Early Psychosis Program (SPC-EPP) in Barcelona, Spain
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ABSTRACTInternational interest has grown over the past 15 years in the prognostic potential of early identification and intervention in the prodromal and first-episode phases of psychosis. This focus is associated with increasing optimism about the benefits of implementing treatment as early as possible in the course of psychosis, at least to help improve the course of illness, reducing its long-term impact.
A clearer framework for guiding, designing, and evaluating preventive interventions in mental disorders has been developed. As a consequence, a series of research projects and real-world services systems are currently emerging. Additionally, several influential international figures and research groups have developed and cooperated in disseminating a more optimistic set of ideas concerning early intervention in psychosis.
The early psychosis programs developed worldwide have a number of common elements and goals: a) early detection of new cases, b) reducing the duration of untreated psychosis (DUP), and c) providing better and continued treatment during the «critical period» of the early years of the disorder.
Moreover, family interventions usually offer psychoeducation and/or individual and group family therapy, in conjunction with communication and problem solving training, which can help to develop coping strategies and reduce distress and burden. Intervention programs in early psychosis are usually composed by interdisciplinary teams, providing a wide range of integrated services that typically include psychoeducation, clinical case management, and group interventions. Specific interventions generally include pharmacotherapy, stress management, relapse prevention, social and employment rehabilitation support, and cognitive and family therapy.
The current challenges in the implementation of psychological interventions in the early stages of psychosis are: 1. to adapt treatment modalities that have been proven effective in stable and residual stages of the disease to its early stages; 2. to develop new forms of therapy tailored to the specific characteristics of these early stages of psychosis; and 3. treatment packages need to be individually tailored to specific needs rather than applied homogenously across early psychosis patients. One example of the integration of all these aspects is the «needadapted integrated treatment» developed by Alanen et al. in Finland, which combines different forms of treatment in a flexible, individually designed intervention in order to take into account the needs of both patients and families.
Following the experience and work of Alanen et al., an Early Psychosis Program (EPP) currently is being developed in the Mental Health Services of Sant Pere Claver in Barcelona, addressed to young people between 14 and 35 years with at risk mental states (ARMS), first episode psychosis (FEP), and post-crisis stages of psychosis.
All cases included in the program are derived from various community resources (primary health care, schools, emergency services, and inpatient units for acute patients) and assessed exhaustively by the team to define the treatment plan for each case. The treatment modalities offered by the EPP are: individual and group therapy, unifamiliar and multifamiliar psychotherapy, psychoeducation and pharmacotherapy in those cases where necessary. Furthermore, there is an intensive community support for those patients who have difficulties engaging with mental health services. During the EPP all patients are monitored through weekly visits with their psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker and/or nursing staff.
The aim of this paper is to present and describe the integrated need-adapted treatment approach of the early psychosis program currently being developed in a specialized center in Barcelona (Spain).
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