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A boy in a sweatshirt sits on a fence using a DBT skill to help him manage schizophrenia.

DBT Can Help You Manage Schizophrenia

Research shows that dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can help those with schizophrenia manage their symptoms. Learn more about the benefits of DBT for schizophrenia here.


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How DBT treats schizophrenia

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) offers a comprehensive approach to treating schizophrenia by focusing on managing distressing symptoms, improving emotional regulation, and enhancing interpersonal skills. Through a combination of individual and group therapy sessions, people with schizophrenia can learn coping strategies and mindfulness techniques to better navigate their daily lives. DBT also emphasizes the importance of building a strong support system and creating a structured routine, which can help people manage their symptoms more effectively. By addressing both the emotional and cognitive aspects of the condition, DBT provides a holistic approach to treating schizophrenia and improving the overall quality of life for people with schizophrenia.

Skills taught in DBT for schizophrenia 

Skills taught in DBT for schizophrenia are as follows:


This DBT skill focuses on being fully present in the moment and accepting one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment. People with schizophrenia can benefit from practicing mindfulness to help manage symptoms and reduce stress.

Distress tolerance

Distress tolerance skills teach people how to tolerate and cope with distressing emotions without making impulsive or harmful decisions. It can be especially helpful for people with schizophrenia who experience intense emotions or psychological distress.

Emotion regulation

Emotion regulation skills help people identify and manage their emotions in healthy ways. People with schizophrenia can learn techniques to reduce emotional intensity and improve their ability to respond to emotional triggers.

Interpersonal effectiveness

Interpersonal effectiveness skills focus on improving communication and relationships with others. People with schizophrenia may struggle with social interactions, and learning interpersonal effectiveness can help them navigate social situations more successfully.

Reality testing

This DBT skill involves critically examining one’s own thoughts and beliefs to distinguish between what is real and what is not. For people with schizophrenia, reality testing can help challenge delusional beliefs and reduce the impact of hallucinations.


Self-soothing skills can help people with schizophrenia manage distress and create a sense of calm. This DBT skill teaches people how to comfort themselves during difficult times and alleviate emotional distress.


Problem-solving skills help people with schizophrenia address challenges and make decisions more effectively. Learning how to identify problems, generate solutions, and implement those solutions can help people with schizophrenia manage daily life.

Benefits of DBT for schizophrenia 

Studies have shown that people with schizophrenia who participate in DBT experience long-term benefits such as reduced symptoms, improved interpersonal relationships, and better emotional regulation. Over time, people who engage in DBT often exhibit decreased use of maladaptive coping strategies and lower rates of hospitalization, leading to an overall improvement in their quality of life. Additionally, DBT has been found to help people manage the distress associated with schizophrenia, leading to improved functioning and a greater sense of well-being.

How quickly does DBT work for schizophrenia? 

As mentioned, research has shown that DBT can have a positive impact on the symptoms of schizophrenia fairly quickly, often within a few weeks or months. People who engage in DBT therapy may experience improvements in their ability to manage their symptoms, regulate their emotions, and cope with daily challenges. This can lead to a better overall quality of life for those with schizophrenia.

How is medication used to treat schizophrenia?

Medication is commonly used to treat schizophrenia by helping to alleviate symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. Antipsychotic medications are often prescribed to help regulate the brain’s dopamine levels and reduce psychotic episodes. Additionally, mood stabilizers 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 treatments for schizophrenia 

In addition to DBT and medication, some other types of psychotherapy treatments for schizophrenia are as follows: 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT helps people with schizophrenia identify and change their negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to their symptoms. It can also help individuals develop coping skills to manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

Family therapy

Family therapy involves the person with schizophrenia and their family members in treatment. It focuses on improving communication, understanding the mental illness, and developing strategies for supporting the person with schizophrenia. Family therapy can also help reduce stress and improve the family’s overall functioning.

Art therapy

Art therapy allows individuals with schizophrenia to express themselves creatively, process their emotions, and improve their self-esteem. Engaging in artistic activities can also help reduce symptoms such as anxiety and depression and provide a sense of accomplishment for those with schizophrenia.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

ECT is a treatment that involves applying electrical stimulation to the brain to induce a seizure. It is occasionally used in severe cases of schizophrenia that have not responded to other treatments. ECT can help alleviate symptoms such as severe depression and psychosis.

Intensive outpatient program for schizophrenia 

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is used In treating schizophrenia when a person requires more structured and frequent therapeutic support than traditional outpatient therapy can provide but does not need the level of care offered by inpatient treatment. IOP for schizophrenia typically involves a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, medication management, and holistic interventions to address symptoms and improve functioning. This approach allows people with schizophrenia to receive comprehensive care while still being able to live at home and continue with their daily activities.

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 complex mental health conditions, including schizophrenia. Our expert clinicians incorporate dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) into individual therapy, 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 treatment for schizophrenia today. 

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