November 22, 2006

A New Approach to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Schizophrenia

This news is from experiments being done in Europe earlier this year on cognitive behavioral therapy for schizophrenia. It sounds positive in this early test/case study, but the research needs to be duplicated and validated with many more people before conclusions can be drawn. The British Psychological Society blog notes:

When it comes to the "positive" symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hearing voices, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has mostly been used to help reduce the distress and burden that they can cause. But now Jerome Favrod and colleagues in Switzerland have tested the idea that CBT could help tackle the cognitive deficit that some argue causes the voices to be heard in the first place.

One theory for why people with schizophrenia hear voices is that they mistake their own inner thoughts, or words they are planning to say, as being of external origin. Favrod’s team recruited a 38-year-old patient who heard voices that he believed belonged to an evil spirit. They tried to help him better recognise the source of the words he heard.

The writers at BPS summarize by stating: "After 6 hours of training over 11 weeks, the patient was better at recognising his own suggestions, and better at recalling the personal memories he had tied them to. Crucially, his auditory hallucinations were also improved and continued to be improved at follow-up a year later."

Read the entire story here: New CBT for Schizophrenia

In another related story, the BPS blog discusses new research that suggests that Psychotherapy has drug-like effect on the brain. The story notes:

There is now widespread evidence that successful psychological therapies induce changes to brain function, often in a way comparable to drug treatments. That’s according to a new review by Veena Kumari at the Institute of Psychiatry.

Take the example of depression: a recent brain imaging study found recovery was associated with decreased metabolism in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, both in patients who had improved after taking Seroxat, and in patients who had undergone successful CBT. Successful CBT was also associated with brain changes not seen with Seroxat, including increased activity in the cingulate, frontal and hippocampus regions

Read the full story: Psychotherapy has drug-like effect on the brain

Research Abstract: Do psychotherapies produce neurobiological effects?

More information on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (definition, etc.)


Though I am sure CBT helps to a certain extent, especially if the symptoms are mild, I do not think it will ever replace medication. Medication can be much more effective and the change more immediate.

Posted by: mister_lister at November 23, 2006 08:49 PM

Even when my daughter could determine that the voices, sounds and movements she was hearing and seeing were not "real", they were still an impairment since she had to expend so much energy in ignoring them.

My personal opinion is that I hold much more hope in medications and treatments that can help the true underlying causes than all these psychological treatments for coping with the effects of the illness.

Posted by: njw at November 24, 2006 09:51 AM

I understand where the two commenters above me are coming from, but I wonder how much experience they have in recovering from a serious mental illness. Yes, medication is the cornerstone for recovery and essential for most, however that should not diminish the importance of psychological interventions, such as CBT. My diagnosis is schizoaffective disorder, and let me tell you, recovery involves a whole lot more than taking medications. Personally, I have used CBT to overcome my paranoia. Before therapy, it was a debilitating impairment for around a decade. Now, I know it's not real, therefore, the emotional toll it takes on me is a lot less. If you are a consumer thinking about taking CBT, my advice is to go for it. Remember, it's an evidence-based practice, which basically means, it is scientifically proven to work. Good luck!

Posted by: Chad at February 28, 2007 04:07 AM

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