Lisa Wood, Rory Byrne and Anthony P Morrison
Background: Internalized stigma is a significant difficulty for those who experience psychosis, but it has never been conceptualized using cognitive theory. Aims: The aim of this paper is to outline a cognitive model conceptualizing internalized stigma experienced by people who also experience psychosis. Method: Previous literature is reviewed, critiqued and synthesized to develop the model. It draws upon previous social cognitive models of internalized stigma and integrates cognitive behavioural theory and social mentality theory. Results: This paper identifies key cognitive, behavioural and emotional processes that contribute to the development and maintenance of internalized stigma, whilst also recognizing the central importance of cultural context in creating negative stereotypes of psychosis. Moreover, therapeutic strategies to alleviate internalized stigma are identified. A case example is explored and a formulation and brief intervention plan was developed in order to illustrate the model in practice. Conclusion: An integrative cognitive model is presented, which can be used to develop individualized case formulations, which can guide cognitive behavioural interventions targeting internalized stigma in those who experience psychosis. More research is required to examine the efficacy of such interventions. In addition, it is imperative to continue to research interventions that create change in stigma at a societal level.