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Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for schizophrenia

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an established psychological intervention for the treatment and prevention of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a complex, neurodevelopmental, chronic psychiatric condition. It is characterized by episodes of psychosis, which include delusions, hallucinations, disorganised thinking, and other cognitive impairments. However, schizophrenia is also frequently associated with many other disturbances of wellbeing and functioning. These include emotional difficulties, such as anxiety and depression, substance misuse, social isolation, disorganised behaviour, interpersonal difficulties and problems with performing everyday tasks. CBT for schizophrenia is tailored to help people manage and reduce the severity of these symptoms and improve their daily functioning. CBT helps people gain better control over their symptoms and significantly improve their functionality and quality of life.


CBT for schizophrenia can be employed in an individually tailored manner to support the person to address their difficulties. For example, it may focus on the identification and modification of distorted thoughts and beliefs. These distorted thoughts can contribute to the distress and dysfunction associated with schizophrenia. For example, a person might hold a delusional belief that they are under regular surveillance by an external agency. CBT may focus on the helping the person recognize these beliefs as products of their illness. Alternatively, helping the person to change their attitude to their thoughts themselves can be helpful for reducing their distress. These approaches can reduce the emotional impact of distressing thoughts and help the person develop a more realistic interpretation of their experiences.


Therapists employ various strategies to help people challenge their dysfunctional thoughts. These include cognitive restructuring, which involves questioning and replacing irrational thoughts with more balanced ones, and developing coping strategies tailored to individual symptoms such as learning better social skills or getting comfortable with situations that unreasonably provoke anxiety through exposure therapy.


An essential part of CBT for schizophrenia is also addressing the emotional and social aspects of the disorder. Therapists often help people improve their social skills, enhance their problem-solving abilities, and increase their stress management skills. This holistic approach not only targets the symptoms but also aims to enhance the person's quality of life.


CBT for schizophrenia typically involves psychoeducation, where people and often their families are educated about the nature of the disorder. This education helps in reducing stigma and in creating better support systems, crucial for the management of the condition. CBT for schizophrenia is a mainstream and effective approach recommended in evidence based treatment guidelines, such as the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Gus completed his PhD in Schizophrenia at the University of Sydney and has published in the area. He worked extensively with the assessment and treatment of people living with schizophrenia during his many years working in the public health system as well as in private practice.

Do you need help with schizophrenia?

Contact Dr Gus Norris via the form below, and we will be in touch to assist you in making an appointment. 

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