Although it is becoming a more widespread treatment option for serious mental disorders, it is not generally the preferred course of action to treat schizophrenia with psychotherapy. While therapy in many forms is typically very effective at treating less severe mental illnesses like moderate depression, anxiety, and even obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia is still considered best handled in the beginning phases of treatment with prescription antipsychotic medications. That said, psychotherapy is becoming a more common secondary treatment of the condition as methods and techniques tailored to schizophrenia are becoming more readily available.
Once medicinal treatments have been established and have begun to take effect, it may be possible to treat some symptoms of schizophrenia with psychotherapy. Patients are often removed from the world around them and sometimes have a distorted idea of reality. Therapy may help to teach them coping skills when dealing with others and to help them recognized aspects of themselves they may not understand.
It is also helpful to treat schizophrenia with psychotherapy in order to teach patients stress-relieving techniques in order to help them to better cope with the demands of interacting with others and undergoing treatments. The effectiveness of this will depend on the individual patient and how severe his or her condition is, and how well the prescription medications are working.
Overall, treatment of schizophrenia with psychotherapy is not recommended as a sole treatment option. It has not proven to be very effective when not combined with medication, and even then its effects are not always effective. Some types of therapy may help more than others, primarily cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of psychotherapy requires the patient to act and behave they way he or she wishes to feel in order to reprogram the brain. This can also work by visually “seeing” the way in which he or she wants to feel or behave.
There is no cure for schizophrenia. Even with treatment, it is a lifelong condition which will require continuous treatment for the patient’s entire lifetime. In some cases, the treatment of schizophrenia with psychotherapy is not considered useful enough to be covered by insurance plans. This is becoming increasingly less common as therapy techniques evolve and improve, as well as medications used to treat the condition, but some providers may still only cover the cost of prescription drugs.
Therapists for treating this disorder should be chosen carefully. Schizophrenia is a very different condition than many of the more common mental illnesses, and only a therapist who has firsthand experience working with patients of this condition should be considered. Even those who are trained in cognitive behavioral therapy may not have the knowledge to work with someone suffering from schizophrenia in particular, because this condition has very specific needs.