Talk Therapy

A relatively new course of treatment for schizophrenia is showing great promise. Talk therapy is a supplemental therapy originally designed to treat depression, but new research from the University of Pennsylvania suggests it might also help particularly anti-social schizophrenic patients.

Talk therapy involves cognitive therapy to address and reduce schizophrenic symptoms like hallucinations, but it also includes goal-setting exercises and activities to get patients to take positive action to improve their lives, like finding a relationship or getting a job.

Tradition approaches to the treatment of schizophrenia have focused almost entirely on pharmaceutical intervention. The problem--the argument goes--is a physical and chemical one, so the only solution is medication. But the success of talk therapy has proven this view short-sighted at best. Because schizophrenics are confronted with a departure from reality, cognitive and behavioral counseling can help to ground them and restore a measure of normalcy. That is not to say that drugs should not play a part in treatment of schizophrenia, but it does suggest that medical professionals should remember there are additional, supplemental options available.

As a long-term treatment, effectiveness is relatively minor over the short term, with only some improvement observed after six months. However, at 18 months and later, the improvement in the patient's life is profound. As measured on the Global Assessment Scale, long-term study participants saw an average improvement of 10 points, which represents a significant leap in the ability to function socially.

Rather than simply treat the symptoms of schizophrenia, talk therapy seeks to present a comprehensive approach to improve a patient's quality of life. In combination with traditional therapeutic techniques and pharmaceutical interventions, talk therapy can open up whole new levels of social functionality for those who need it most.

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