Cognitive Behavioral Therapy For Schizophrenia

Updated October 4, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Schizophrenia

Have you or someone that you love been diagnosed with schizophrenia? If that’s the case, it's extremely important that you get the appropriate treatment to help you manage symptoms and live a healthy, functional life. As with any mental health disorder, there are several different ways that schizophrenia can affect you and your life. Getting professional help as soon as possible is going to help you get back to living the type of life that you want.

Are You Experiencing Schizophrenia-like Symptoms?

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder that interferes with a person’s ability to think, manage their emotions, and interpret their reality. People with schizophrenia might develop thoughts that are based in fantasy or delusion. They could experience delusions, hallucinations, and difficulty with concentration and even motivation.

 Symptoms of schizophrenia can include:

  • Delusions: a person with schizophrenia may have false beliefs that have no foundation in reality.
  • Hallucinations: these can be visual and/or auditory, and the person experiencing them cannot tell that these hallucinations are not real.
  • Abnormal motor behavior: a person with schizophrenia may find it difficult to start or accomplish tasks. Often, they may resist instructions, not respond to requests, or engage in excessive movement.
  • Disorganized speech: being able to communicate can be impaired, resulting in speech that is filled with meaningless words.
  • Other: these may include not taking care of personal hygiene, lacking facial expressions when talking, speaking in a monotone voice, withdrawing from social situations, and being unable to experience pleasure.

Experiencing a combination of these symptoms could be a warning sign that you or someone you may know may be experiencing schizophrenia, and should seek the advice of a health care provider immediately.

Diagnosing Schizophrenia

Because schizophrenia is a serious mental health condition, diagnosis is typically achieved after completing a series of tests and evaluations. A typical first step in diagnosing schizophrenia is conducting a full physical examination to rule out other health problems.

Then, the method of diagnosis will turn toward psychiatric needs. The doctor will talk with the patient about their thoughts and feelings. They'll talk about hallucinations, delusions, substance misuse, moods, etc. All of these things will help the doctor to narrow down the potential cause of the symptoms and come closer to making a diagnosis. At that point, the final diagnosis may be made, and schizophrenia treatment will begin.

Various Kinds of Schizophrenia

Decades ago, doctors used to categorize schizophrenia into five different subtypes: residual, paranoid, undifferentiated, disorganized, and catatonic. These categories of schizophrenia no longer exist, thanks to recent studies and guidelines by the American Psychiatric Association.

How Do These Types Differ?

Not many people are aware that there is a schizophrenia spectrum, which means that not everyone who lives with schizophrenia has exactly the same symptoms. The schizophrenia spectrum consists of similar disorders that are characterized by how long symptoms have been occurring for. 

Getting Treatment

The good thing is that while schizophrenia is a lifelong condition, several treatments have been shown to work very well. Those who live with this disorder absolutely can go on to live full lives. The most important thing is to get the type of treatment that they need to regulate their behavior, moods, and delusions. This generally requires a combination of medications and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Types Of Treatment for Schizophrenia

Content Warning:Please be advised, the below article might mention topics that include prescription medication, abuse of medication, and addiction. The information found in the articleis nota substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have.

The most common type of treatment is also one of the most popular: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Cognitive behavioral therapy for schizophrenia can help the patient because it creates a safe environment. According to the American Psychiatric Association, CBT focuses on changing the way a person thinks in order to start the road to recovery. Because it's a type of talk therapy, the focus isn't on challenging the delusions that the patient has, but on creating new ways to help them cope with the struggles they are facing. It also focuses on developing rational thoughts rather than trying to challenge any of the other thoughts or feelings. Therefore, it tends to have a higher success rate for those who are living with this disorder.

Are You Experiencing Schizophrenia-like Symptoms?

Another option, called compliance therapy, is a very short term alternative, and it's generally used only when the patient has first been diagnosed. This would occur in the stage where the patient is first learning to take their medications and is first getting used to a schedule. This usually happens also when a patient is first being released from hospitalization. Compliance therapy focuses on getting the patient to follow the rules regarding their medication use and to make sure that they are taking the medications at all of the times they are supposed to. It is a form of self management.

Cognitive remediation therapy, also known as CRT, can also be used to treat severe mental health disorders. It is considered to be one of the more successful methods of therapy by the National Institute of Mental Health. The focus of CRT is to improve cognitive processes, such as social cognition, executive function, attention and memory, so that persons living with schizophrenia can improve their performance in everyday life. Computer programs are used in the teaching process and can vary in both length and complexity, depending on the requirements of the patient.

Antipsychotic medications are also a line of treatment for individuals with schizophrenia. The purpose of antipsychotic drugs is to ease and/or eliminate the delusions and hallucinations that a person may be experiencing. They can come in a liquid, pill, or injection form, and sometimes may have to be taken for the rest of a person’s life, even if they get better through therapy.

Side Effects of Antipsychotic Drugs

Like with all medications that deal with the chemistry of the brain, there can be some side effects with antipsychotic drugs and mental health medications, in general. Discussing your health information with a therapist or medical professional beforehand will assist in arriving at a diagnosis of schizophrenia and which medication will work best in its treatment.

The most common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision. Rarely, antipsychotic medications can also cause seizures, low white blood cell count, constipation and nausea, and low blood pressure. Older generation antipsychotics use a hormone called prolactin that result in lower sex drive, affected mood, and the enlargement of breast tissue in men and women. Newer generation antipsychotics are more prone to causing weight gain, as well as increasing cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

If you’d like to learn more about the side effects of these medications, there is plenty of information at the American Psychiatric Association website.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

This was once called shock therapy, and the term can bring about frightening imagery that has become popular in movies. However, electroconvulsive therapy is no longer the painful treatment it was once depicted to be. Also known as ECT, the National Institute of Mental Health has considered it one of the fastest and most effective ways to relieve symptoms of schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder. The process involves a general anesthetic being administered in order to relax all of the muscles in the body. Then electrodes are placed on the scalp and a finely-controlled electric current is administered for a short period of time. These sessions take place several times a week for a period of two to four weeks. Some common side effects of ECT include headaches, memory loss, muscles aches, and upset stomach.


If you are struggling with schizophrenia or other mental health conditions, the best thing you can do is get help right away. BetterHelp is one place where you can get the therapist that you're looking for and where you can find all of the care that you need. This completely online service makes sure that you're going to be comfortable with the person you're working with and also makes sure that you can get on with living as normal of a life as possible.

Which therapy is best for schizophrenia?

One of the best types of therapy for schizophrenia is cognitive behavior therapy. This is a type of talking therapy, where a therapist may help you understand why you think and act a certain way in specific situations, which could help you address and change these things. You can read more about schizophrenia at the National Alliance on Mental Illness website.

What are the forms of therapy in treating schizophrenia?

There are a few types of therapy that may be utilized when it comes to treating schizophrenia including cognitive behavioural therapy, psychosocial therapy, cognitive enhancement therapy, and family therapy. You can discuss any of these types of therapies with your treatment team, or read more information about this condition on the Mental Health Foundation website.

Does therapy work for schizophrenia?

Therapy can work for schizophrenia, and there are also a number of different types of therapy that may be helpful. For example, people with schizophrenia may need psychosocial therapy, which means a therapist teaches an individual how to grow their social skills and practice self management of their symptoms. This is a process that can take a lot of time and energy.

What therapy is used for paranoid schizophrenia?

Both behavior therapy and psychosocial treatments are types of therapy that may be used to treat people with schizophrenia. Psychosocial therapy involves helping a person learn social skills training and may also involve family therapy and support groups, so an individual will be able to have a better quality of life.

What are 5 causes of schizophrenia?

There are multiple possible causes of schizophrenia, although there’s no definite cause. It may also be possible that trauma and mistreatment could lead to an individual experiencing schizophrenia as well. You can check out these causes on the National Alliance website, to learn more.

What is the first line treatment for schizophrenia?

The first line of treatment for people with schizophrenia is likely therapy, and in those with chronic schizophrenia, it may also involve the use of medicines, to help lessen their most severe symptoms.

Additionally, someone may need to work with occupational therapists for additional psychological treatment, including learning how to solve practical problems, improving social skills, and in order to lessen negative symptoms they are experiencing. 

What are the 7 early warning signs of schizophrenia?

Some of the early warning signs related to schizophrenia including being unable to perform at work, not spending time with friends, having issues with thinking, not showing emotions, paying no attention to self-care,  having an issue expressing ideas, and having problems determining what is real and what isn’t. These signs are explained on the National Institute of Mental Health website. You can also research this site to find out more about controlled trial and randomized controlled trial experiments related to schizophrenia and the treatments for it.

What are the 4 phases of schizophrenia?

There are 3 phases associated with the mental illness schizophrenia. These include the first stage when symptoms are not easily noticed which is called the prodromal stage, the middle or active stage where symptoms and psychosis are likely to take place, and the final stage, also known as the residual stage, where symptoms are still being experienced but some may not be noticeable.

What are the three stages of schizophrenia?

The three stages of schizophrenia are the prodromal, active, and residual stages. People with schizophrenia cope differently in each stage, so it is necessary to notice if and when a loved one is showing symptoms of mental health conditions, so you are able to help them get the treatment they need as soon as can be. This type of peer support may make a big difference.

Can schizophrenia be treated without medication?

Some cases of schizophrenia may be treated with medication, or an individual may be able to stop taking medication for this mental illness after undergoing years of treatment. The treatments and the duration of them will depend on the circumstances and symptoms present. Some cases may require family therapy and others might call for assertive community treatment. You will need to talk to your therapist for more information on your care.

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