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What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia interferes directly with a client’s perception of reality and is characterized by hallucinations, most commonly auditory, and fixed delusions. Thinking is confused, speech may be hard to understand, and they may find it difficult to connect with friends and family. People with this condition may also exhibit negative symptoms. Their range of emotional expression is narrowed and flattened, their efforts to communicate may slow, and the regular tasks of daily living become increasingly difficult to initiate.

How common is schizophrenia?1

Three to 7 people out of every 1000 are estimated to have Schizophrenia. The risk appears equivalent for both men and women, although the negative symptoms may be more common in men.

What is CBT for schizophrenia like?

For all disorders, the CBT therapist starts by educating clients about their diagnosis, helps them set goals, and socializes them to CBT by teaching them essential thinking and behavioral skills. In working with clients with schizophrenia, CBT therapists focus on the realistic hopes, dreams, aspirations and values that lie within the individual, the aspects of the person often hidden by this condition. Hallucinations and delusions are reflective of real concerns and beliefs that clients have about themselves, their world, and their future. Clients may refer to real challenges that they face, and resources that they do indeed lack. The content of the hallucinations and delusions need not affect their ability, however, to give love, receive love, make a contribution, and live life well. CBT therapists provide tools to help clients push through the negative symptoms, to help them discover meaning in valued activity. As with depression, action leads to motivation. CBT therapists work with their team of family members and professionals to enable greater activity and independence on their part.

For health and mental health professionals

Learn to treat schizophrenia more effectively at our CT-R for Serious Mental Health Conditions workshop. 1American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. doi:10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596.744053