Exploring the Beauty of Life In Psychosis (BLIP): Insights From a Peer-Led, Arts-Based Group

Foundry/UBC School of Social Work

This virtual symposium will discuss learning from Foundry Virtual’s Beauty of Life in Psychosis (BLIP) art group, a multi-cohort program which was hosted in collaboration with EPI BC and the Consumer Initiative Fund - and which was proposed, developed, managed, and facilitated by youth with lived/living experience. The group provided a safe, supportive space for youth to express themselves without judgment, to connect with a community, and to create art about their experiences. We found that the environment encouraged rich discussion and engagement, with each cohort working together to identify a theme to focus on as a group for a final project and exhibition. The themes participants chose were “transformation”, “normalcy”, and “societal expectations”, respectively. We are now working with a local arts organization to pursue further opportunities for BLIP artists. We believe that this model of a collaborative, low-barrier, non-clinical social space for youth who self-identify as experiencing psychosis or unusual perceptions can inspire future directions in mental health. This virtual symposium will encourage participants to “dream bigger” about what meaningful engagement with lived experience can look like, as well as highlighting the importance of community participation and affirmation (in this case, within an arts community.) Finally, we will discuss the value of exploratory spaces where youth can discuss the personal meaning of their experiences.


Rory Higgs
Rory Higgs (they/them) is a peer support worker and researcher from Vancouver, BC. They have previously developed peer support projects for Foundry and Vancouver Coastal Health, and are currently studying social and cultural contexts of early psychosis at the UBC School of Social Work. They also coordinate the BC Hearing Voices Network and sit on the BC EPI Alumni Council and Health Justice Lived Experience Experts Group.

Anne Liao
Anne Liao (she/they) is a youth peer supporter at Foundry’s virtual clinic, BC’s one-stop-shop youth wellness centre, as well as a group facilitator with the BC Hearing Voices Network and the Kaleidoscope Mental Health Support Society. They also sit on the BC EPI Alumni Council and research the role of culture in early psychosis at the UBC School of Social Work.

Key takeaways

  • Multiple artworks by PWLE were shared during the presentation, with consent of the artists
  • Implemented a SketchTogether for audience participation
  • Art can be an empowering format to partner with folks who experienced/experience psychosis
  • Foundry BC created a wonderful pathway to refer clients to this peer-led, arts-based group as a pathway for healing
  • The concept of "learned normal" was a strong theme in their group
  • "Art can be an empowering medium for people with lived/living experience of psychosis. For some people, it can be a renowned way of self-expression, meeting people where they are at"
  • Peer support workers are central to their approach
  • Versus a strictly "Art therapy group", it was marketed as a social group, which impacted the dynamics

Key Learning Objectives (defined by presenters)

  1. Participants will consider new ways youth with lived/living experience - particularly LE of psychosis - can take the lead in developing and implementing services to meet their own identified needs. Participants will reflect on what meaningful engagement with youth with psychosis can look like at the organizational level
  2. Participants will consider the value of community-building for youth experiencing early psychosis, particularly through opportunities to connect socially with peers, collaborate, and have meaningful contributions and achievements recognized
  3. Participants will consider the role of exploratory spaces where youth are able to "talk through" their experiences and the personal significance they hold freely - most, but not all, youth at BLIP used medical terms to describe their experiences, but all youth were able to flexibly account for others' perspectives and meet each other respectfully and constructively in conversation

Key Themes

  1. Sharing experiences of life and psychosis through art
  2. Self-direction

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