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Feeling Safer: enabling patients with psychosis to receive the most effective psychological therapy

Persecutory delusions (inaccurate beliefs that others intend to harm you) (e.g. “MI5 and the police are trying to torture me” “My neighbours are out to get me and are spreading nasty gossip”) are very common in severe mental health disorders such as schizophrenia. People withdraw from everyday life. This seriously affects their mental and physical health. 

Existing treatments often don’t work well enough. In the UK 150,000 NHS patients experience these distressing thoughts despite treatment. This is why we developed the Feeling Safe programme. It is the outcome of fifteen years of research and clinical practice. We recently tested Feeling Safe in a clinical trial with 130 patients with persistent persecutory delusions. The treatment was delivered by clinical psychologists over 20 sessions. Half of people achieved large benefits. Another quarter made moderate gains. These results provide great cause for optimism in the treatment of delusions. 

The challenge now is to make Feeling Safe widely available. So, we have created a six-month guided online version that users can access whenever they choose via smartphone/computer/or tablet. A range of mental health workers can support the delivery of the treatment over six months (both remotely and face-to-face). Six face-to-face sessions will be reserved for a key task: going out with patients into everyday situations to relearn safety. The new programme is called Feeling Safer.

The development and testing of Feeling Safer is funded by an NIHR Programme Grant for Applied Research.


Daniel Freeman (chief investigator), Felicity Waite, Louise Isham, Jason Freeman, Thomas Kabir, Alex Kenny, Kate Chapman, Stephanie Common, Robert Dudley, Tony Morrison, Gary Willington, Richard Emsley, Alison Brabban, Michael Larkin, José Leal.