Patients’ and Family Members’ Experiences of Recovery in a Forensic Psychiatry Program

The introduction of a recovery approach to forensic psychiatry services has been embraced in recent years. The recovery approach moves patient care beyond the domains of symptom reduction and aggression management. It places the importance on the patient’s personal experiences and values, and instills hope for a future with meaningful activities and supportive social relationships. As an initial step to integrating a recovery approach, we sought to better understand patients’ and family members’ perspectives and experiences of recovery in a forensic psychiatry program (FPP). This project involved one family member and two patient focus groups. All groups were asked what recovery meant to them and what we could do to support their recovery in the FPP. The focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed. A thematic analysis approach identified themes from the transcripts. Family themes included the patient returning to their original identity, opportunities to address the past, developing positive connections with others, balancing rehabilitation in the forensic environment, and maintaining communication with staff. Patient themes included developing positive connections, developing better communication about the forensic system, balancing rehabilitation in the forensic environment, and progressing with their lives. Patients and family members described their experiences of recovery in our FPP. Some areas for improvements were identified, which can form the groundwork for future improvement initiatives in our FPP.

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