Lifengage – for life beyond psychosis

The Lifengage project

For more than fifty years psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia have been primarily treated with medication, but symptoms of schizophrenia such as hearing voices and feeling paranoid often persist in spite of medication. These symptoms often exert a huge impact on individuals and can result in difficulty carrying out social roles and an impoverished quality of life. The aim of the Lifengage project is to examine whether symptoms of psychosis can be improved by comparing two psychological treatments, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Befriending Therapy.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)

ACT is a behaviour therapy that emphasises processes such as acceptance and living in the present moment, and values helping clients move on in their lives. ACT uses experiential exercises, metaphors and behavioural tasks to assist the client to do things they value in life. Unlike traditional cognitive therapies, logical analysis has a relatively minor role. In this trial, ACT will be used to teach participants skills to step back from distressing symptoms and to support them in doing things they value in life.

Befriending Therapy

Befriending is a therapy based on companionship. It involves talking about hobbies, interests or enjoyable things in life and might include topics such as sport, current events, news and travel. The therapy may also involve activities like going for a walk or playing a game. It is different from ACT because it doesn't involve talking about symptoms, worries, or things that cause stress.

Project Sites

Both therapies show promise in being helpful for symptoms of psychosis. Participants are randomly allocated to their treatment group and then receive eight one-to-one fifty-minute sessions with a psychologist within a three month period. Research assessments take place before commencing therapy, at the end of therapy and after a further six months.

Lifengage appointments can be held at the participants' local mental health service within:

  • Alfred Health
  • Austin Health
  • Eastern Health
  • Melbourne Health (North Western Mental Health)
  • Mercy Health
  • St Vincent's Health
  • Southern Health
    or at:
  • The Psychology Clinic, La Trobe University, Bundoora
  • Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, The Alfred, Melbourne

Entry to the project closed 30 September 2011.

Contact us

Ph: (03) 9479 5045

Department of Psychology and Counselling
La Trobe University
VIC 3086