Evidence suggests that empowerment is central to improving the effectiveness and quality of mental health care. Empowerment includes increased involvement, choice and access to health information for service users. Within the process of empowerment, individuals may better understand their health needs and accordingly improve their prognoses. Despite the widespread use of the term 'empowerment' within mental health, there have been no studies examining how young people with psychosis understand and conceptualize the term empowerment or which factors are conductive to them developing a sense of empowerment. This study aims to qualitatively conceptualize empowerment from the perspective of young people aged 14-18 years experiencing psychosis. Individual interviews were conducted with nine young people with a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder regarding their understanding and experience of empowerment. The interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results indicated that young people who have experienced psychosis conceptualized empowerment as being listened to, being understood, taking control and making decisions for themselves. Young people place high importance on experiencing personal empowerment in relation to being users of mental health services and regard being empowered as the most important factor for determining their own recovery. Results also revealed that young people view mental health workers as very variable in their ability and willingness to address and help facilitate empowerment. They also identified daily routine, structure and avoidance of inactivity as additional means of increasing empowerment. The implications for research and practice are discussed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. KEY PRACTITIONER MESSAGE: The way practitioners interact with young people impacts upon their experience of empowerment. Young people with psychosis equate being listened to with being empowered. Young people with psychosis, especially when hospitalized, want to develop and use their own coping styles. Clinicians who give choices and have a sense of humour are valued by young people with psychosis. Clinicians must consider whose needs are being met when decisions are made for young people with psychosis.