OBJECTIVE: This study described the views over time of young people referred to early intervention services (EIS), particularly as they relate to the importance of relationships. METHODS: A cohort of people aged 14 to 35 enrolled in a large multisite study of EIS for psychosis in the United Kingdom were recruited for a qualitative, longitudinal study in which they were interviewed within six months of admission to EIS and 12 months later. Transcripts of the interviews were analyzed using Charmaz's constructivist grounded-theory methodology. RESULTS: A total of 63 individuals were interviewed during the six months after their first service contact, and 36 (57%) were interviewed 12 months later. Service users generally viewed IES key workers as supportive and youth sensitive, but up to one-third felt that the three years of sustained engagement expected was too intensive. Family support was highly valued by service users, and key workers and families worked well together to support the young people as they recovered. A significant minority of service users, however, reported feeling the emergence of a new self-identity, often associated with a sense of loss of the person they had felt themselves to be before becoming ill. CONCLUSIONS: EIS for young people should provide not only the right type of engagement but also the right amount, recognize the very important role of families in giving both practical and emotional support and in liaising with key workers, and take into account the relatively rapid change in perceptions of personal identity that accompany illness.