CBT Works For Schizophrenia

CBT Works For Schizophrenia

by Dr Emma Gray - 11th February, 2014

Research has found that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is at least as effective as medication in treating Schizophrenia and Psychosis.

The research, recently published in The Lancet (the world’s leading medical journal) found that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) not only resulted in an improvement in symptoms suffered by those with a diagnosis of Schizophrenia and Psychosis but that the therapy was more acceptable to patients than medication which up until now, has been the therapy of choice for this type of mental health problem. Anti psychotic medication has a number of unpleasant side effects including lethargy, weight gain, diminished sex drive, increased chance of developing diabetes, dizziness and blood pressure problems, which understandably means that patients with schizophrenia often do to take what the medication prescribed for them.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is what is known as a ‘talking therapy’ and with the help of a therapist, usually a Clinical Psychologist or Counselling Psychologist, involves helping the patient to achieve three principle changes. Firstly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) aims to help patients to indentify unhelpful and inaccurate thoughts and replace them with more adaptive alternatives. Secondly it helps patients to identify self defeating or destructive behavioural patterns and work gradually towards replacing these with more helpful, self enhancing ones. Finally Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) teaches patients techniques to better understand and manage their emotions. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) therefore has no unpleasant side effects and so for many patients is a much more attractive therapy option than medication.

Medication is frequently the treatment of choice made by medical doctors (e.g. GPs and Psychiatrists) for their patients suffering with mental health problems, whether that be Anxiety, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Eating Disorders (inc. Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder and Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified) often despite the research and recommendations made by The National Institute of Care and Excellence (NICE; the government body responsible for reviewing and recommending the most effective therapies for physical health and mental health problems). This current research serves as another reminder of the need to ensure that our medical doctors and those responsible for advising patients are educated about the most effective therapies available and that their prescribing practices are monitored to ensure that they are in line with the evidence base so that patients get the best and most effective therapies as soon as possible.


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleague once described me as natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.


Read more about my approach to counselling here...


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