Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Anne Westhues

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This qualitative study explores the experiences of nine people with diagnoses of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, living in the area of Guelph, Ontario. The stigma and poor prognosis traditionally attached to schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder rage on. The profound disruption caused by the symptoms of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder and the social repercussions of receiving these diagnoses, contribute to the individual's disconnection from family and community. Major alterations in the person's social roles and sense of self follow. Stigma and discrimination compound the injury to self-esteem to the extent that a person internalizes them. Yet, however grim the situation appears, in all of the participants' stories there is a sense of improvement in health toward recovery. Participants have reconnected with others, and are rebuilding their lives and sense of selves. In this thesis I find there are several possible roles for clinical and community development focused practitioners, including assisting people in accessing resources; encouraging people to connect with others; helping with skills to manage symptoms; and ending stigma and discrimination.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season