Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Psychosis

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for psychosis (CBTp) is an evidence-based form of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, that has been shown to be effective in treating individuals experiencing psychosis and related problems. CBTp treatment targets primarily psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, paranoia, referential thinking, and other delusions, that can cause substantial distress and may have negative impact on daily functioning and quality of life. In addition, CBTp may be used to target a number of daily functioning challenges, including difficulties managing emotions; dealing with poor motivation; developing and maintaining interpersonal relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners; applying to and managing school and work responsibilities; improving poor sleep and sedentary lifestyles; as well as dealing with medication side effects. Overall, the goal of CBTp is to minimize symptom severity, reduce associated distress, and enhance daily functioning.

The efficacy of CBTp has been studied and evaluated in more than 40 randomized clinical trials over the past 30 years. It has been recommended as treatment for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia and related disorders by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. CBTp has also been recommended by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

CBTp is appropriate for adolescents and adults who recently started experiencing psychosis, those who display early signs of psychotic symptoms, as well as those with a more chronic course. CBTp treatment is typically composed of weekly, one-on-one meetings with a doctor, either in person at our offices or via telemedicine. With the patient’s consent, close family members (e.g., parents, siblings, romantic partners) are often encouraged to contribute to the treatment.

The early course of CBTp treatment typically focuses on assessing current symptoms and associated distressing experiences, developing an understanding of potential diagnoses, and identifying targets for treatments. Examples of targets include reducing paranoid ideation, alleviating distress associated with auditory hallucinations, developing time-management skills, and improving interpersonal relationships. This initial period is followed by the development of an individualized treatment plan tailored to the patient’s personal needs, preferences, and treatment targets. Finally, using a cooperative process, the doctor and patient employ various CBTp treatment techniques to achieve the treatment goals.

These techniques may include:

  • Learning to deal with distressing thoughts, experiences, and symptoms
  • Learning about factors that may exacerbate symptoms
  • Recognizing when thoughts or perceptions are inaccurate
  • Recognizing when thoughts or perceptions are hindering functioning
  • Re-evaluating thoughts and perceptions and reshaping them so they are less distressing and/or debilitating
  • Recognizing and regulating emotions
  • Learning ways to calm and soothe mind and body
  • Developing a better understanding of the behavior and motivations of other people
  • Enhancing problem-solving skills for social situations
  • Improving planning and time-management skills
  • Improving sleep and reducing sedentary activities
  • Developing a greater sense of confidence in one’s abilities

Our team of psychologists and mental health professionals are dedicated to helping you and your loved ones. For more information about CBTp and to set up an appointment, please contact any of our team members listed below.