March 29, 2007

Family and Cognitive Interventions for Schizophrenia

Although "intensive psychodynamic therapy" (such as psychoanalytic talk therapy) for the treatment of psychosis in schizophrenia has been found to be ineffective if not outright harmful, other verbal and social interventions, when used in conjunction with medications, may help reduce relapse rates and improve social functioning. These other therapies are not "psychotherapies" as that term is usually understood, and include:

  • Family intervention
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy specifically for psychosis
  • Social skills training
  • Cognitive remediation (aimed at improving memory and attention)

An article in Psychiatric Times discusses two of these therapies in detail, saying that neither is widely available and both are time and labor extensive, requiring staff with extensive training. These two therapies have had increasing validation for over a decade as being effective therapies for schizophrenia:

  • Family intervention (FI) - involving a combination of education and improved communication, problem solving, and processing of emotions for both family members and affected individuals
  • Individual cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for psychosis

The interventions might be more effective and useful if they are better targeted to patient groups that could benefit, such as perhaps those in the prodromal phase, or those for whom symptoms and associated distress are chronic.

Dr. Elizabeth Kuipers, professor of clinical psychology and head of the department of psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College, London writes:

It is possible to offer structured, specific ways of talking to people with psychosis about delusions and hallucinations. This does not seem to make them worse, and for some it can be helpful. The challenge for the future is to improve these therapies and their persistence and then to make them more available.

Read the full article: Psychological Therapies for Schizophrenia: Family and Cognitive Interventions

Related Reading:
Family Psychoeducation for Schizophrenia Lowers Relapse Rate, is Cost Effective

Family Education Programs

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Schizophrenia - An Indepth Interview with Experts

Cognitive Remediation Therapy Effective in Patients With Schizophrenia

Update on Integrated Psychological Treatment


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