Psychotherapy and Psychosocial Interventions

Psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions may help people to manage their illness by helping them to find new ways of coping psychologically and socially.9

Therapies like these can help people to think about themselves, other people and their environment. This can reduce the impact the illness has on their ability to manage the social aspects of daily life, such as shopping or meeting with other people. Many types of psychotherapy are available, and some of these have a cognitive (thinking) or behavioural approach.9 This means that they look to support the person in thinking and behaving more appropriately and to improve their ability to function socially in different environments, such as at home, at work, in the community and at hospital. Psychotherapy can be provided either on a one-to-one basis by mental health professionals, or in group settings involving the patient's family.9 It is becoming more common for mental health teams to use psychotherapy and psychosocial interventions as part of their daily working practice.


Psychotherapy is the treatment of emotional and mental disorders by verbal rather than physical means or by drugs. Sharing experiences with a trained and empathetic person, by talking about the patient's world with someone outside it, may help a person with schizophrenia to gradually come to understand more about themselves and discover ways to manage their condition.


Many people with schizophrenia can overcome their difficulties and this is helped by programs such as problem solving, life skills, money management and support to re-enter education or work. Meeting other people with schizophrenia who are also getting better can be a great source of help.

Individual psychotherapy1,9

Individual psychotherapy involves regularly scheduled talks between the patient and a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric social worker or nurse. The therapies may focus on different issues such as current or past problems, experiences, thoughts, feelings or relationships. There are many different types of therapy. Some of these may be more suitable for certain people than others. Not all people with schizophrenia find these options helpful. It is important to gain advice about the best approach for the individual and how it will work alongside the other treatments they may be receiving.

Cognitive behavioural therapy1,9

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helps someone to think about how they see themselves, other people and the world around them. It also looks at how actions can affect thoughts and feelings. CBT can help to change how someone thinks ('cognitive') and what they do ('behaviour'), helping them to feel better. CBT is different from other treatments that involve talking through issues surrounding a condition, in that it focuses problems and difficulties in the 'here and now'. It looks for ways to improve a person's present state of mind.

Family education1,9

People with schizophrenia can often be discharged from hospital into the care of their family. It is important that their family or caregivers learn all they can about schizophrenia to understand the difficulties and problems that can be associated with the condition. It is also helpful for family members to learn ways to minimize the patient's chance of relapse, for example:

  • Family intervention can help the whole family develop patterns of behaviour which promote understanding and support of the patient
  • Educational programs can help people to learn how to cope with their problems and inform them about the types of health, housing and social care available to them