An online compassion-focused crisis intervention during COVID-19 lockdown: a cases series on patients at high risk for psychosis [2020]

To pilot-test the effectiveness of a online compassion-focused crisis intervention for persons who were diagnosed with brief psychotic disorder and were still at high risk for a psychotic episode at the Italian announcement of lockdown on March 9th, 2020.

Six patients who, at the moment of the lockdown, were treated through different psychotherapy approaches and antipsychotic drugs for a first brief psychotic episode accessed a 4-week online compassion-focused intervention comprising a weekly individual video-call session, and an open messenger service with audio-recorded compassion focused practices. Primary outcome (general symptomatology) was assessed one‐week before and at the end of the intervention. Secondary outcomes (depression, anxiety and stress symptoms) were assessed daily during the intervention, for a total of 28 days.

Five of six participants demonstrated a reliable change in both primary and secondary outcomes, and no one reported acute psychotic episodes during the lockdown. All participants reported a stable or increased working alliance.

These data provide the preliminary feasibility and effectiveness of a brief online compassion-focused crisis intervention for patients diagnosed with a brief psychotic disorder, in situations where the telepsychology is offered, unplanned, as the only possible treatment option.

Simone Cheli, Veronica Cavalletti & Nicola Petrocchi
Psychosis: Psychological, Social and Integrative Approaches, 20 Jul 2020