Aim: The purpose of this study was to describe the experience and meaning of engagement for staff and clients of assertive outreach teams. Method: Interpretative phenomenological analysis was selected for its flexibility and transparency. Data were collected by semi-structured interviews from a sample of five client and five staff participants (n = 10). The interviews were analysed idiographically, inductively and interrogatively. Findings: Four themes identified by both staff and client participants emerged: engagement as an interpersonal relationship, engagement in and through time, enabling and disabling factors and engagement in occupation. In addition, clients developed a theme around engagement as a means to self-actualisation. Staff also raised a specific theme around the role of engagement in mental health services. Conclusion: Staff and clients experienced engagement in broadly similar ways, but with differing emphases. Although all participants described it as both an invisible 'means' and a visible 'end', the staff related engagement only to mental health services whereas the clients experienced it in the context of both mental health services and occupations. Relevance: This study is relevant to all occupational therapists who work with people experiencing mental health problems.
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