Psychotherapy can be a valuable treatment for schizophrenia, but it’s important to find the best type of psychotherapy for you.
Psychotherapy is often used in combination with medications for the management of schizophrenia. Identifying the best psychotherapy option for schizophrenia depends on your individual needs and preferences.
There are many different types of psychotherapies, each of which can support you in different ways. However, some psychotherapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, are recommended to all people living with schizophrenia.
Part of building any effective treatment plan includes identifying what works best for you. Your own unique experience of schizophrenia will determine both the type of treatment you may need in addition to its effectiveness for you.
Research on the effectiveness of all the various psychotherapies recommended in schizophrenia is still underway. It’s difficult to label any one as the best. However, it’s thought that a combination of different therapies might offer the most benefit and help you find one that works best for you.
In 2020, the American Psychiatric Association released an updated guideline for the treatment of schizophrenia. Aside from various medications, it also identified which psychotherapies are recommended for those living with schizophrenia. These include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is recommended as a standard part of schizophrenia treatment in both the United States and the United Kingdom. It’s well-studied and has been shown to
However, its potential benefits continue to be challenged as the evidence base expands. Numerous studies on its effectiveness have demonstrated conflicting results. It does seem to offer benefits for many people, but they’re not experienced by everyone.
The purpose of psychoeducation is to increase your knowledge about schizophrenia. This commonly includes information about the illness itself as well as the treatment options and expectations.
It may also include education that aims to improve your personal beliefs and perspectives about schizophrenia. The idea is to empower you with information that ultimately improves your quality of life and willingness to continue receiving treatment.
Psychoeducation can be delivered in various settings and has been shown to prevent symptom recurrences, according to a large
Family based treatments are also commonly recommended in schizophrenia. Treatments typically involve key members of your family who are either involved in your care or live with you.
Examples of family treatments can include some of the following topics:
- stress reduction
- emotional processing techniques
- communication strategies
- improvements in social functioning
- reductions in symptom recurrence
- improvements in overall symptoms
Cognitive remediation therapy
Also called cognitive enhancement therapy, this type of therapy focuses on improving overall cognitive function in schizophrenia. This may be especially useful if you notice difficulty in any of the following areas:
- reasoning and problem-solving
- social cognition
Cognitive remediation therapy uses computer programs and various worksheet exercises that aim to improve cognitive function. Research from 2020 and
In combination with medications, psychotherapy is generally regarded as beneficial for schizophrenia. It’s almost always recommended as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
It’s important to determine which type of psychotherapy works best for you. You may have to try a few different types at first, but you can ultimately pursue what seems to be helpful.
Psychotherapy works by helping you manage your symptoms and develop new coping strategies. Working with a mental health professional can help you explore some of the lifestyle factors and behaviors that contribute to your symptoms.
There can be several different goals for psychotherapy in schizophrenia. Ultimately, the main goal is to help you improve your quality of life and to lower the severity of your symptoms.
Some specific goals of psychotherapy for schizophrenia can include:
- reduced symptom recurrence
- improved medication adherence
- enhanced cognitive function
- emotional support and coping methods
- improved social and work functioning
You can also work on specific goals with a healthcare professional. If you need help in any particular area, it can be addressed as you see fit. Getting involved and engaged in your care is generally encouraged in schizophrenia.
If you tend to work well in groups or you prefer the support of a group setting, then support groups may be valuable to you. You’ll have the opportunity to share perspectives with others who experience similar symptoms.
If you tend to isolate yourself, support groups can also help prevent isolation and help lead communication with others, as noted by an older
There are various options that you can pursue if you’re living with schizophrenia and are interested in psychotherapy. Many of these options are still being researched for their specific benefits, but some have shown proven benefits.
Attending psychotherapy sessions regularly can be an important part of your life and well-being. Psychotherapy can offer new strategies for managing your symptoms and may also be an opportunity for you to feel more grounded and connected with the community.