Is cognitive therapy effective as standalone treatment for schizophrenia?

Updated: Mar 16, 2018
  • Author: Frances R Frankenburg, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Answer

Cognitive therapy may be effective as a standalone treatment for schizophrenia. [120, 121] For schizophrenic patients who cannot or will not take antipsychotic medication, cognitive therapy may be the most viable option. According to data from the first randomized trial of cognitive therapy as a standalone therapy for schizophrenia, structured treatment with a therapist significantly reduced the severity of psychiatric symptoms and improved personal and social functioning and some dimensions of delusional beliefs and voice hearing. [120, 121]

The study involved 74 individuals aged 16 to 65 years with schizophrenia spectrum disorders who had decided not to take or had stopped taking antipsychotics for at least 6 months. [120, 121] Half were randomly assigned to cognitive therapy (26 sessions during a 9-month period) plus treatment as usual and half to treatment as usual alone. After 18 months, 7 (41%) of 17 study participants receiving cognitive therapy had an improvement of more than 50% in the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) total score compared with 3 (18%) of 17 receiving treatment as usual. [120, 121]


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