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Introducing the Holders' Journey

When someone experiences extreme mental and emotional distress and altered states, often called psychosis, the experience is usually witnessed and supported by their family and friends.​ 


We describe people experiencing distress as experiencers, and the people who support them as holders.

Holding the holders

Experiencers and holders share a complex and often difficult journey together. Holders frequently feel overwhelmed and find themselves struggling to cope with the many emotional, physical, financial, relational and social challenges that being in this supporting role brings.


That’s why we offer online peer support groups for family members and friends.


Understanding the experiences of holders

- a research study

Although intimately intertwined with the experiencer’s journey, Safely Held Spaces sees the holder’s experience as a journey in its own right.


But we don’t yet know much about what it's like for friends and family who give their support, or how their experience changes over time. That’s why we commissioned research to better understand and describe what it is like to hold the experience of psychosis in the family, and to influence the kinds of support that are available for holders.

Our research study consisted of an online survey, which gathered responses from more than 60 family members and friends, followed by a smaller number of in-depth interviews and a facilitated sensemaking workshop. 


Findings are being shared with family and friends groups, and with influencers, mental health services and other organisations supporting family and friends. They are also being submitted for publication in a peer reviewed journal.

This webinar presented at ISPS US in Spring 2023 provides more information on the study and our key findings.

If you would like to receive updates on the progress of our Holders’ Journey research, get involved in disseminating findings or to find out more, please click here to contact us.

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