Psychotherapy for Schizophrenia

Psychotherapy can play a significant role in helping an individual live with and manage his/her schizophrenia. The emotional impact of a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be huge, which is why psychotherapy can be very beneficial. With schizophrenia, psychotherapy often includes both individual and family sessions.

Psychotherapy can help in the following ways:

  • Understand the disorder
  • Find healthy ways to cope with the disorder
  • Encourage treatment compliance
  • Manage symptoms and develop healthy habits
  • Deal with family, social and work-related issues
  • Learn ways to manage stress
  • Increase insight and awareness
  • Address comorbid disorders such as depression or anxiety
  • Reintegration into society
  • Develop and/ or improve social skills
  • Develop and maintain healthy relationships
  • Facilitate communication with family members or significant others

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavior therapy has been shown to be a very effective type of therapy for a variety of disorders, such as depression and anxiety. It can also be very beneficial to someone who has schizophrenia. The goal of CBT is to help the person spot unhealthy patterns or tendencies in his/her thinking and develop new patterns which are more beneficial.

With schizophrenia, CBT can help teach the patient how to best manage symptoms which may not fully resolve even with medication. For example, many schizophrenic individuals hear voices and struggle with delusional beliefs. CBT can help them check the reality of their experiences and tune out the intrusive voices. It can also help them with paranoid ideation and negative self-talk. Negative self-talk and low self-esteem is not uncommon in individuals with any significant psychiatric diagnosis.

Family Therapy

Whenever a person is diagnosed with a major mental illness such as schizophrenia, family therapy early on can be vital to a good outcome. Family members may have misperceptions or exaggerated fears. Family therapy can address these issues, provide information and resources, and help keep lines of communication open. It can also help family members accept the person with the illness and show them the best ways in which they can provide support.

written by Dr. Cheryl Lane, PsyD

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