Early Psychosis

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UT Southwestern Medical Center’s HOPE Program, which stands for Healing Over Psychosis Early, provides innovative and comprehensive intervention for early psychosis in a compassionate, collaborative environment. Our multidisciplinary team of providers, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and licensed therapists, have specialized training and experience in treating early psychosis. 

Providing HOPE for People Experiencing Early Psychosis

Psychosis is a mental condition in which a person misinterprets information or loses touch with reality. It can impact thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, as well as what people believe, hear, or see.

Early psychosis refers to an initial phase of the illness (within the first two to three years) when a person first shows psychotic symptoms. Prompt, comprehensive treatment is the best way to help manage the symptoms of early psychosis and set a person on the best possible long-term life trajectory.

The HOPE (Healing Over Psychosis Early) Program features a collaborative team of doctors and eminent researchers who continually seek cutting-edge information about early psychosis. We provide interventions including medication, individual psychotherapy, group psychotherapy featuring cognitive and social skills interventions, family support and education, employment and education services, and individualized case management.

Our aim is to alleviate symptoms and restore functioning, with an ultimate goal of having patients live productive, fulfilling lives.

Signs of Early Psychosis

Psychosis tends to develop gradually over time. The earliest signs can include trouble thinking clearly, uneasiness, suspiciousness, sudden drop in job or school performance, anxiety, and changes in emotions – whether they’re felt more strongly or not all. Later, signs of psychosis can include a deepening inability to think clearly, hearing or seeing things that aren’t there, developing irrational beliefs, exhibiting unusual behaviors, and pulling away from family and friends.

While the mechanisms of psychotic disorders are not fully understood, there are multiple causes and triggers for psychosis, including certain drugs, psychological trauma, brain injuries, and various medical illnesses (including mental illnesses). Genetics can also play a part in developing psychosis. 

Diagnosing Early Psychosis

A psychiatrist or psychologist can usually diagnose early psychosis through a thorough psychiatric evaluation, which involves spending time with the individual and asking questions and observing behaviors. Input from family members on a person’s behavior can be very informative. Objective brain structure and function measures (for example brain CT or MRI) and laboratory tests are indicated in some cases.  

Treating Psychosis

The goal of treatment is to manage psychosis and to limit its impact on a person’s life. Recovery, shared decision-making, and setting up meaningful and individualized goals are at the core of the HOPE Program. A combination of treatments – including medications, psychotherapy, and social support services – is offered.

Recovery Is Possible

Society often portrays individuals with psychosis negatively. However, with treatment, many people are able to achieve recovery and live personally meaningful lives. It’s important to view psychosis as an obstacle to overcome, rather than a preset course with poor outcomes.

The Hope Program at UT Southwestern

We’re here to help individuals experiencing symptoms of early psychosis by offering interventions including:

  • Expert psychopharmacological treatment
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Family support and education
  • Group therapy, including processing groups and skill-building groups
  • Supported employment and education-focused psychotherapy
  • Individualized case management

Through the HOPE Program, we help individuals:

  • Create their own recovery path
  • Join in shared decision-making with their treatment team
  • Reestablish their social circle
  • Reengage in school and career activities
  • Reach goals and live life with meaning

The HOPE Program might be for you if you:

  • Have trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
  • Have problems expressing feelings
  • Have thoughts that seem strange
  • Hear noises or voices that others can’t hear
  • Feel that strangers are watching
  • Feel isolated or lonely
  • Feel “off” but are unsure why

Meet the Program Team

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Elena Ivleva, M.D., Ph.D., Psychiatrist and Program Director

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Shae Harp, LPC, NCC, Team Lead and Clinical Therapist (individual, family, and group psychotherapy)

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Alexandra Chapman, M.S.N., APRN, PMH-NP, Psychopharmacological Treatment

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Gabriela Reyes, LCSW, Clinical Therapist (supported employment and education-focused therapy, cognitive rehabilitation therapy)

More Information about HOPE

For new patient appointment or more information, call 214-645-8500 or email

Brain Biomarker Research and Clinical Trials

We provide opportunities to participate in cutting-edge research studies on early psychosis. Current studies include exploring brain-based biomarkers, including MRI, EEG, ocular motor function, cognitive assessments, and genetic, cell line, and immunological testing, as well as novel treatment protocols. Carol A. Tamminga, M,D., Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, is the Director of the Psychosis Research Program. For more information about participating in this research, please call 214-648-5283. You can also email us at Brains@UTSouthwestern.edu.