A young man goes to CBT to help him manage schizophrenia.

How CBT Can Help You Manage Schizophrenia

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people identify and challenge irrational thoughts – essential for those with schizophrenia.


share icon Facebook logo LinkedIn logo

How CBT treats schizophrenia

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can be helpful for people with schizophrenia. It focuses on changing the negative thoughts and beliefs that can contribute to symptoms such as a hallucination or a delusion. In a CBT session, people learn how to identify and challenge their irrational thoughts, as well as develop coping strategies to deal with their symptoms. People can learn to manage their symptoms better and improve their overall quality of life by addressing the underlying cognitive distortions that can exacerbate their condition.

Skills taught in CBT for schizophrenia

Cognitive restructuring

Cognitive restructuring focuses on helping people challenge and change their negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves, others, and the world. By learning to recognize and reframe unhelpful thoughts, people can reduce distress and improve their ability to cope with schizophrenia symptoms.

Reality testing

This CBT intervention involves helping people evaluate the accuracy of their thoughts and perceptions to distinguish between what is real and what is a schizophrenia symptom. This can help people develop a more accurate understanding of their experiences and reduce anxiety or distress related to schizophrenia symptoms and psychosis.

Coping strategies

People learn practical techniques for managing symptoms such as a hallucination or a delusion, including relaxation exercises, grounding techniques, and distraction methods. These skills can help people feel more in control and reduce the impact of symptoms on their daily lives.

Social skills training

This skill focuses on helping people develop effective communication and interpersonal skills to improve their relationships and social interactions. People learn to recognize and express emotions, assert their needs, and navigate social cues, which can enhance their social functioning and support network.

Problem-solving skills

This CBT intervention teaches people to identify challenges related to schizophrenia, break them down into manageable steps, and develop effective solutions. By learning to approach difficulties in a systematic and strategic way, people can feel more empowered and capable of managing their mental health condition.


People receive information about schizophrenia, including symptoms, causes, treatment options, and prognosis. This helps a person understand their mental health condition, reduce stigma, and make informed decisions about their mental healthcare.

Stress management

This skill involves teaching people techniques for reducing and managing stress, such as relaxation exercises, time management, and setting boundaries. By learning to cope with stress more effectively, someone with schizophrenia can reduce stress’s impact on their mental health and overall well-being.

Medication adherence

People learn the importance of taking prescribed medications as directed, including potential benefits and side effects. This skill can help a person understand the role of medication in managing schizophrenia and improve their adherence to treatment.

Benefits of CBT for schizophrenia

CBT has been shown to have long-term benefits for people with schizophrenia. It can help individuals manage their overall symptoms, decrease the risk of relapse, and improve their overall quality of life. Through CBT, people with schizophrenia can develop coping strategies, challenge harmful beliefs, and learn to regulate their emotions and behavior better. These skills and techniques can have a lasting positive impact on a person’s ability to function and thrive despite the challenges of the condition.

How quickly does CBT work for schizophrenia?

People with schizophrenia can benefit from CBT fairly quickly. Research has shown that CBT can lead to significant improvements in negative symptoms and overall functioning in people with schizophrenia within a relatively short period. This can result in a better quality of life and an increased ability to manage the overall symptoms of schizophrenia.

How is medication used to treat schizophrenia?

Medication is commonly used to treat schizophrenia by helping to alleviate positive symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. Antipsychotic medication, such as clozapine, olanzapine, and risperidone, is often prescribed to help regulate the brain’s dopamine levels and reduce psychosis. Additionally, mood stabilizers like lithium and anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines may also be used to address symptoms related to mood and anxiety. It is important for people with schizophrenia to work closely with their healthcare providers to find the most effective medication regimen for their specific needs and to monitor for any potential side effects.

Other types of treatment for schizophrenia

Art therapy

Art therapy involves using creative processes such as painting, drawing, and sculpting to express and communicate emotions, thoughts, and experiences.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

ECT involves the use of electrical currents to induce a seizure in the brain, which can help alleviate severe symptoms of schizophrenia.

Family therapy

Family therapy involves working with the family of the person with schizophrenia to improve communication, problem-solving, and coping skills and to enhance understanding and support for the person with schizophrenia.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy involves helping the person with schizophrenia to develop and maintain the skills needed for daily living and work, as well as to address issues related to self-care, social interaction, and leisure activities.

IOP for schizophrenia

Intensive outpatient programs (IOP) are used to treat people with schizophrenia when they need more support than traditional outpatient therapy but do not require the intensive care of a hospitalization. IOP offers structured therapy and support services for people with schizophrenia, including medication management, individual and group therapy, and family support. This program allows people to continue their daily routines while receiving the necessary treatment and support to manage their symptoms and improve their overall well-being.

Treatment for schizophrenia at Charlie Health 

If a young person in your life is struggling with schizophrenia, 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 serious mental health conditions, including schizophrenia. Our expert clinicians incorporate CBT into individual counseling, family therapy, and group sessions. With this kind of holistic treatment, managing schizophrenia is possible. Fill out the form below or give us a call to start healing today.

Charlie Health shield logo

Comprehensive mental health treatment from home

90% of Charlie Health clients and their families would recommend Charlie Health

Girl smiling talking to her mother

We're building treatment plans as unique as you.