Psychotherapy is also widely recommended, though not widely used in the treatment of schizophrenia, due to reimbursement problems or lack of training. As a result, treatment is often confined to psychiatric medication.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used to target specific symptoms and improve related issues such as self-esteem, social functioning, and insight. Although the results of early trials were inconclusive as the therapy advanced from its initial applications in the mid-1990s, more recent reviews clearly show CBT is an effective treatment for the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.

Another approach is cognitive remediation therapy, a technique aimed at remediating the neurocognitive deficits sometimes present in schizophrenia. Based on techniques of neuropsychological rehabilitation, early evidence has shown it to be cognitively effective, resulting in the improvement of previous deficits in psychomotor speed, verbal memory, nonverbal memory, and executive function, such improvements being related to measurable changes in brain activation as measured by fMRI.

Psycho-social and Psychotherapy for Schizophrenia
Psycho-social and Psychotherapy for Schizophrenia

Metacognitive training: In view of a many empirical findings suggesting deficits of metacognition (thinking about one’s thinking, reflecting upon one’s cognitive process) in patients with schizophrenia, metacognitive training (MCT) is increasingly adopted as a complementary treatment approach. MCT aims at sharpening the awareness of patients for a variety of cognitive biases (e.g. jumping to conclusions, attributional biases, over-confidence in errors), which are implicated in the formation and maintenance of schizophrenia positive symptoms (especially delusions), and to ultimately replace these biases with functional cognitive strategies.

The training consists of 8 modules and can be obtained cost-free from the internet in 15 languages.

Studies confirm the feasibility and lend preliminary support to the efficacy of the intervention. Recently, an individualized format has been developed which combines the metacognitive approach with methods derived from cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Family Therapy or Education, which addresses the whole family system of an individual with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, has been consistently found to be beneficial, at least if the duration of intervention is longer-term. Aside from therapy, the impact of schizophrenia on families and the burden on careers has been recognized, with the increasing availability of self-help books on the subject. There is also some evidence for benefits from social skills training, although there have also been significant negative findings. Some studies have explored the possible benefits of music therapy and other creative therapies.

The Soteria model is alternative to inpatient hospitalization using full non-professional care and a minimal medication approach. Although evidence is limited, a review found the programme equally as effective as treatment with medications but due to the limited evidence did not recommend it as a standard treatment.

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