ServiceNet’s PREP© Program Earns International Recognition

ServiceNet‘s Director of Research, John Knutsen, presented at the 2023 International Early Psychosis Association (IEPA) conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, about the impressive treatment results achieved by ServiceNet’s Prevention & Recovery in Early Psychosis (PREP©) program. PREP serves 40-50 young adults who have experienced at least one episode of psychosis—also referred to as “non-consensual reality,” during which a person may hear voices or experience other delusional symptoms.

PREP’s comprehensive services include individual, family, and group therapy; medication management, a parent support group, vocational coaching, peer support, outreach in-home services, and milieu therapy at the PREP center in Holyoke. While in the milieu, participants prepare and eat meals together, play music and create art, plan community outings, participate in other social activities, and have space for quiet times during the day.

In Massachusetts, PREP is the only program of its kind west of Worcester. And it is the only program of its kind in the nation to offer milieu therapy as part of treatment.

PREP’s treatment outcomes have been phenomenal, as demonstrated by the ongoing research they have done in collaboration with Harvard University, McClean Hospital, and the Massachusetts Psychosis Network for Early Treatment (MAPNET). In every area they have measured—using an instrument called the PSychosocial Wellbeing Scale—PREP has seen a statistically significant change in participants’ wellbeing relative to symptoms experienced, substance use, vocational initiative, and social engagement.

As its name states, the PREP program’s focus is on early psychosis, and participants are between the ages of 16 and 30, with most in their early to mid-20s. This early period may be likened to a “stage-one psychosis,” which is more treatable than stage three or four when psychosis has become entrenched. In the early stage, treatment providers have a much better chance of helping people gain the skills needed to cope with their symptoms and live an empowered and healthy life.

Research about participants’ treatment outcomes has been a way of life at PREP since the program was launched in 2015. While deepening staff’s learning and expertise, this research contributes to the growing field of knowledge about treatment of early psychosis. It also opens the way to further research and collaboration, including program leadership’s work with ServiceNet’s outpatient clinics to establish a Clinical High Risk (CHR) program. CHR is designed for young people who have been identified, through a research-based screening tool, to be at higher-than-average risk of developing psychosis; and its goal is to minimize, delay, or even prevent psychosis altogether.

ServiceNet’s innovative PREP program offers hope to young people, their families, and communities throughout the Pioneer Valley. And by sharing their research regionally, nationally, and internationally, they extend that hope to thousands more.

To learn more about the many ways ServiceNet helps people throughout western Massachusetts live their lives to the fullest, explore our programs and services.

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