Understanding a person's belief system

In this clip from training delivered to care workers in Sheffield (April 2013), Peter talks about the importance of working within an individual's own belief system.

It is very important to respect and understand a person's belief system –what gives meaning to that person – if you dismiss their belief system as delusional or part of psychosis then that person will not recover. 

If you get a label like schizophrenia your right to an opinion or a set of beliefs is taken from you – if you offer an opinion you are being opinionated, aggressive, delusional. We have to listen to and respect how the individual sees their experiences.

There is a value in trying to make sense of what a person believes to be true, even when it differs greatly from our own perception of reality.  A classic example is a friend of mine who got sectioned before Christmas – all the staff were saying he is just delusional, he has really lost the plot this time.  I sat with him and he told me that he had escaped from a hospital in Harrogate which was true, but he went on to tell me he had been walking down the street when he saw the Queen driving a mini,  and she had a union jack on the wing mirror which he took, so the Queen got out complaining and he had a big stand up row with her in Harrogate – and then he told me that he had found the Holy Grail and had laid his coat over it to lay claim to it. 

Now that all makes perfect sense if you ask him why he ended up being sectioned.  Had the staff asked him anything about his recent experiences? No.  Well in 12 months, 5 people in his family including his parents had died and no one has supported him, given him bereavement counseling – so in that world he had no control but in this other world he did have control- he could argue with the Queen and find the Holy Grail.  He needed help to deal with his losses so that he could let the other world go. 3 months he was back functioning.  Even something apparently delusional makes sense in the context of experiences.

What is recovery?
Understanding a person's belief system