(Photo:Flickr/Dominic’s pics)

People suffering from schizophrenia are often plagued with a lifetime of hallucinations, delusions and isolation from society. But researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania are suggesting that cognitive therapy can help those most severely impaired by this disorder regain some sense of normalcy.

“Mental health professionals often give up on the lowest-functioning cases of schizophrenia and may say that they are not capable of improving,” said Paul Grant, lead author of the study. “Our results suggest that cognitive therapy can improve quality of life, reduce symptoms and promote recovery in these patients. This intervention can help these patients improve to the point where they may be able to move up to the next level in psychosocial functioning — i.e. going from being unemployed to volunteering part-time; not being in school to enrolling in night classes; not socializing to having a weekly social contact and making a friend or two.”

The study involved 60 adults with schizophrenia who received either cognitive therapy plus standard treatment — which includes antipsychotic medication and psychosocial services provided by local community mental health centers — or just standard treatment. Within 18 months, patients receiving cognitive therapy had more motivation to complete tasks and had less occurrences of hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech and breaks from reality.

“Our study suggests that cognitive therapy might have utility to help reduce public health costs for the most expensive per-patient psychiatric population while simultaneously improving patients’ quality of life,” said Aaron T. Beck, senior author of the study.

Source: Eurekalert

Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Email her at hrudow@counseling.org.

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