Interim Section Author: E. David Klonsky (University of British Columbia)
Original Section Author 2008-2011: Wendy N. Tenhula (VISN 5 Mental Illness Research,
Education and Clinical Center, and University of Maryland School of Medicine)
Schizophrenia is a serious and typically chronic mental illness characterized by psychotic symptoms (hallucinations & delusions), negative symptoms (e.g. flat affect, anhedonia, amotivation), impairments in social / role functioning, and cognitive deficits. Schizophrenia affects approximately 1% of the population and affects men and women in equal numbers. Symptoms typically begin in adolescence or early adulthood. Medication is generally effective in reducing symptoms and relapse, but even on optimized medication regimens, many individuals with schizophrenia continue to experience psychotic symptoms. In addition, current medications have little, if any, benefit for the negative symptoms, social disability and cognitive deficits associated with schizophrenia. Optimal treatment for schizophrenia includes both medication and specific psychosocial interventions. Which psychosocial interventions would be best for a given individual depends on their stage of illness, current clinical status, personal goals, and social needs.
- Social Skills Training (SST) (strong research support)
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) (strong research support)
- Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) (strong research support)
- Family Psychoeducation (strong research support)
- Supported Employment (strong research support)
- Social Learning / Token Economy Programs (strong research support)
- Cognitive Remediation (strong research support)
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for Psychosis (modest research support)
- Cognitive Adaptation Training (CAT) (modest research support)
- Illness Management and Recovery (IMR) (modest research support)
Note: Other psychological treatments may also be effective in treating Schizophrenia and related disorders, but they have not been evaluated with the same scientific rigor as the treatments above. Many medications are also helpful for Schizophrneia and related disorders, but we do not cover medications in this website. Of course, we recommend a consultation with a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and discussion of various treatment options. When you meet with a professional, be sure to work together to establish clear treatment goals and to monitor progress toward those goals. Feel free to print this information and take it with you to discuss your treatment plan with your therapist.