Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder that causes a person to experience hallucinations, delusions, and communication disorders. The sufferer can utter sentences that other people cannot understand and exhibit inappropriate behavior. The result of these disorders is that the person has difficulty being able to move in the environment.
In addition to taking antipsychotic drugs, someone who has schizophrenia also needs to take psychosocial interventions. As reported by the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment in 2013, psychosocial interventions can reduce symptoms, prevent relapse of symptoms, and increase patient compliance in following treatment therapy.
What types of psychosocial interventions are often used by doctors to treat people with schizophrenia? Check out the description below!
Therapy Cognitive behavioral therapy or known as CBT, is a method that teaches patients to modify thoughts or behaviors that lead to negative feelings and behaviors. With CBT, patients are expected to be able to change evil thoughts and extreme reactions when faced with specific situations.
The New York University Langone Health page summarises that CBT sessions for people with schizophrenia are held once a week for 12 to 16 weeks. A psychiatrist or psychologist guides sessions with experience in the CBT field.
During the session, patients are invited to identify negative thoughts and evaluate whether these thoughts are valid or not. Patients are also guided to form positive responses when faced with situations that lead to negative thinking. Furthermore, schizophrenic patients attending CBT sessions will also learn to monitor their emotions (self-monitoring).
As explained on the page of the Society of Clinical Psychology Division 12 of the American Psychological Association, the ultimate goal of CBT sessions is not to cure but to improve the patient’s ability to cope with symptoms independently. They will also be trained to reduce the stress and frustration they experience.
Programs Psychoeducational programs in this context provide patients with information about the condition of schizophrenia. This includes knowledge of the symptoms, causes, medications, and types of therapy that need to be followed regularly. This program can be done in groups or individually.
Summarising a report entitled “Psychoeducation for Schizophrenia (Review)” published in the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews in 2011, psychoeducation has a high potential to reduce the appearance of schizophrenia symptoms (relapse). This effort can also reduce the duration of hospital stays and increase patient compliance in taking drugs from doctors.
3. Family intervention
Treatment of schizophrenia is not only focused on the patient but also on his family. This is because few of those with schizophrenia live with their families.
Family interventions can potentially prevent the recurrence of symptoms and improve global functioning in patients. Global functioning is a numerical scale used by doctors to measure a person’s social, mental health, and occupational functioning.
Components or procedures for implementing family interventions for schizophrenic patients include psychoeducation, problem-solving, emotional processing, stress management, and communication. Family interventions can be performed in the clinic or at home. This effort can also be made privately, i.e. only with the patient’s family in question or the form of a group (with family members of other patients).
In an interview with Psychiatric News, Lisa Dixon, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, explained that family intervention could begin by asking patients to determine which family members are involved. He also encourages counselors to ask patients for their opinion about what efforts can help them and what is less useful for them in dealing with schizophrenia.
4. Social skills
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) page states that schizophrenia symptoms generally appear during adolescence to their 20s. Those with this condition have difficulty thinking, regulating emotions, and relating to those around them. These factors make it challenging to adapt to the environment.
Social skills are recommended to be followed by schizophrenic patients in the hope that they will have the ability to cope with several things. Among them are situations that make it stressful, improve quality of life, and communicate verbally and nonverbally.
An article entitled “Social Skills Training for Negative Symptoms of Schizophrenia” in the 2018 Schizophrenia Bulletin added that social skills have the potential to have a positive impact on reducing negative syndrome symptoms in patients. Signs of the harmful syndrome include difficulty expressing oneself, not being interested in activities, inability to follow or complete activities altogether, and maintaining social relationships.
5. Supported employment
The last type of psychosocial intervention used to treat schizophrenic patients is the supported employment (SE) program. As reported by the Society of Clinical Psychology Division 12 of the American Psychological Association, this work support is part of a mental health service where patients are placed in a workplace that suits their abilities with the guidance of a counselor.
Through this program, patients are expected to have high self-confidence and can live independently. As mentioned in an article titled “Employment and Schizophrenia: Three Innovative Research Approaches” in the 2018 Schizophrenia Bulletin, having work becomes a realistic goal for people with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. Additionally, SE is an effective intervention method for psychiatry and vocal rehabilitation to obtain the expected results.
It can be concluded that these five interventions are related to each other. The ultimate goal is to make schizophrenic patients become independent individuals who can live adequately and can adapt to their environment.