A young man managed psychosis with CBT.

A Guide to Managing Psychosis with CBT

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can reduce the severity of psychosis symptoms and help people develop coping strategies to live more fulfilling lives.


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How CBT treats psychosis

People with psychosis can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as it helps them address their thought patterns and beliefs that contribute to their experiences. Psychosis can be found in various mental health conditions, but it is most prominently featured in schizophrenia, where it is a core symptom that significantly impacts the individual’s ability to discern reality. By working with a therapist, people can learn to challenge and reframe their distorted thinking, reduce the severity of their negative symptoms, and develop coping strategies to manage their experiences better. Additionally, CBT can help people improve their social and occupational functioning and enhance their overall quality of life. This therapy approach has been found to be effective in helping people with psychosis gain a better sense of control over their symptoms and live more fulfilling lives.

Skills taught in CBT for psychosis

CBT for psychosis teaches people a variety of skills to help them manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Some of the key skills taught in CBT for psychosis include:

Reality testing

This skill involves helping people identify and challenge their distorted thoughts and beliefs about their experiences. This allows people to identify when their unusual experiences of hearing voices and experiencing delusions or hallucinations are not reflective of actual external events, helping them distinguish between what is real and what is not. Through reality testing, people can learn to differentiate between what is real and what is a symptom of their psychosis, allowing them to gain a more accurate understanding of their surroundings.

Coping strategies

CBT for psychosis teaches people various coping strategies to deal with negative symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions. This may include techniques for managing anxiety, grounding exercises, and relaxation techniques to help people stay calm and focused during challenging moments.

Problem-solving skills

This CBT intervention helps people learn how to identify and address everyday challenges related to their psychosis, such as difficulties with social interaction or managing their medication. Problem-solving skills can help people develop practical solutions to these issues, leading to increased confidence and a sense of control over their lives.

Social skills training

CBT for psychosis often includes sessions focused on improving interpersonal skills, such as communication, assertiveness, and building healthy relationships. By enhancing their social skills, people can increase their social support network and reduce feelings of isolation.

Symptom monitoring

Teaching people to recognize early psychosis warning signs and changes in their symptoms can help them take proactive steps to manage their condition. By developing the skill of symptom monitoring as a CBT intervention, people can work with their treatment team to prevent relapses and maintain stability.

Overall, CBT for psychosis is designed to empower people with the skills and tools they need to effectively manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. By acquiring these skills, people can gain a sense of mastery over their experiences and improve their overall well-being.

Benefits of CBT for psychosis

People who engage in long-term CBT for psychosis can experience a range of benefits. Over time, people may develop more effective coping strategies for managing symptoms and improving their overall quality of life. Additionally, CBT can help people better understand their experiences and develop greater insight into their thought patterns and behaviors. This can lead to long-term improvements in their ability to function and engage with the world around them.

How quickly does CBT work for psychosis?

Some people may experience improvements in their symptoms of psychosis after just a few sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of therapy can help people learn to manage their symptoms, challenge their beliefs, and develop coping strategies. For some people, CBT can lead to significant improvements in a relatively short period of time. It is important for people to work with a qualified therapist to receive the full benefits of CBT for psychosis.

How is medication used to treat psychosis?

Medication is often used to treat psychosis by helping to manage the symptoms of the condition. Antipsychotic medications are commonly prescribed to help regulate the neurotransmitters in the brain and reduce hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking. Some examples of antipsychotic medications include Risperidone, Olanzapine, and Quetiapine. These medications can be used in combination with other drugs, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, to address different aspects of the person’s psychotic symptoms. It’s important for the person to work closely with a healthcare provider to find the most effective medication and dosage for their individual needs.

Other types of treatment for psychosis

Family therapy

Family therapy involves the person with psychosis and their family members. The goal is to improve communication, address family dynamics, and provide support for both the person with psychosis and their loved ones.

Art therapy

Art therapy allows people to express their emotions and experiences through creative means. This can help them process and cope with their symptoms of psychosis in a non-verbal way.

Cognitive remediation

This therapy focuses on improving cognitive functioning, such as memory, attention, and problem-solving skills, which may be impaired in people with psychosis. It involves exercises and activities designed to strengthen these cognitive abilities.

Group therapy

Group therapy brings people together who are experiencing similar symptoms of psychosis. It provides a supportive environment where they can share experiences, learn from one another, and develop coping strategies. Specifically, group CBT helps people work together to question and change unhelpful thoughts, making it easier to handle and lessen their psychotic symptoms.

IOP for psychosis

Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are used to treat people with psychosis when they do not require hospitalization but still need more support and structure than traditional outpatient therapy can provide. In IOP, people attend therapy sessions for several hours a day, multiple times a week, allowing for more intense and comprehensive treatment. IOP for psychosis often involves a combination of medication management, group therapy, individual therapy, and support from a treatment team to help people manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

Treatment for psychosis at Charlie Health 

If a young person in your life is struggling with psychosis, Charlie Health is here to help. Charlie Health offers a virtual Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) that provides more than once-weekly mental health treatment for young people and families dealing with complex mental health conditions, including psychosis. Our expert clinicians incorporate CBT into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic treatment, managing psychosis is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

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