CBT for schizophrenia: What to know

doctor and her patient

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental condition for which there is currently no cure. However, there are various therapeutic options available, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which has been shown to be an effective technique for symptom management.

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. A person suffering from schizophrenia may appear to lose contact with reality at times. In addition to CBT, antipsychotic medicines and other behavioral skills training are among the therapies for schizophrenia.

This article looks at the effectiveness of CBT for schizophrenia, compares it to other therapies, and offers tips on how to choose a therapist.

Does CBT work?

doctor and her patient

CBT can not cure schizophrenia, although it can help a lot of people. CBT may help people with schizophrenia manage their symptoms, avoid hospitalization, and improve their overall quality of life.

Combining antipsychotic medication with CBT is often more beneficial than using medication alone. CBT may also be used to address symptoms that do not respond to medication.

CBT is highly beneficial in treating positive symptoms of schizophrenia, which are those that a person feels in addition to reality, according to a 2021 review. Delusions, hallucinations, and disordered behavior are some of the symptoms that arise once a person develops the condition.

CBT may be more successful for people with flexible beliefs, high insight, and a shorter illness duration, according to the authors.

CBT may help minimize cognitive deficits, disorganized behavior, and depression, according to the findings of a 2018 review. This therapeutic method may also help with positive and negative symptoms, as well as social anxiety.

CBT has also been found to assist people enhance their quality of life by:

  • managing homelessness
  • improving relationships
  • reducing loneliness
  • decreasing violent behavior
  • promoting regular exercise
  • encouraging community integration
  • reducing stigmatization
  • reducing harmful substance use

What is CBT? 

CBT is a sort of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, in which a mental health practitioner works with you to address your thoughts, emotions, and actions. It may aid in the management of fears, the improvement of interpersonal skills, and the promotion of positive thought patterns over negative thought patterns.

It can help people strengthen their relationships, achieve their goals, and handle problems in this way, so improving their overall quality of life.

How does CBT work for schizophrenia?

To help a person with schizophrenia minimize and manage their symptoms, CBT employs a variety of treatments and self-help initiatives. It promotes social integration as well as drug adherence.

A person will work with their therapist to develop objectives, learn how to manage with their symptoms, and change self-defeating behaviors during CBT sessions. A therapist will learn about a person’s symptoms in order to determine the appropriate treatment option.

CBT assists people in examining their feelings, ideas, and behaviors in relation to symptoms or events. Negative ideas can be learned to detect, challenge, and change.

To assist a client with schizophrenia, the therapist may employ a variety of strategies. These are some of them:

  • introducing coping activities, such as music or physical activity
  • cognitive restructuring
  • conversational skills practice
  • elaborating upon sounds
  • answering questions about sounds
  • normalizing auditory hallucinations

A person and their therapist may discuss the following topics during a CBT session:

  • beliefs about voices
  • the types of situations that cause auditory hallucinations
  • avoidance behaviors
  • safety-seeking behaviors
  • thought patterns

Other therapies for schizophrenia

Supportive psychotherapy and cognitive enhancement therapy (CET) are two alternative psychotherapy approaches for schizophrenia .

Supportive psychotherapy assists a person in focusing on the present moment in order to deal effectively with their experiences.

CET consists of group sessions and computer-based cognitive training aimed at improving brain function and giving people confidence in their cognitive abilities.

Psychosocial treatments assist people in treating symptoms and resolving daily difficulties such as school, work, and relationships. Behavioral skills training, supported employment, and cognitive remediation therapies are all examples of psychosocial treatments.

Combining antipsychotic drugs with yoga therapy may be useful in treating both positive and negative symptoms, according to research. Yoga therapy may also assist to reduce weight gain and metabolic risk, which are common side effects of antipsychotic medicines. It may also help to relieve psychiatric symptoms, reduce sadness, and improve mental and physical well-being.

Finding a therapist

A primary care physician, nurse practitioner, or health insurance provider can all help people find a therapist. They could also ask their employer, school, or religious organization for a referral.

Because therapy for mental health illnesses like schizophrenia is more effective when a person has a positive relationship with their therapist, it’s important that they choose someone with whom they feel at ease.

A person can inquire about a possible therapist’s credentials, treatment style, and experience with schizophrenia. They can also inquire about the length of treatment, costs, and insurance coverage.

The following are some examples of online resources:


CBT may assist people with schizophrenia reduce and control their symptoms, allowing them to improve their daily functioning and general quality of life.

CBT can help people improve their behaviors, mental patterns, and self-efficacy, all of which can have a good impact on relationships, work, and education.

Antipsychotic medicines, which are the first line of treatment for schizophrenia, are usually used in conjunction with CBT. People should engage closely with their medical team to track and monitor their treatment plan and make required changes.


  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5999799/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8498814/
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/cbt-for-schizophrenia
  • https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies
  • https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia
  • https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia/Treatment