Evaluate Evidence for a Psychological Intervention for Schizophrenia

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Clinical Psychology Assignment

Evaluate the evidence for a psychological intervention for schizophrenia. Is there sufficient evidence to justify its use?

There are perhaps two main prongs to the development of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as an intervention for schizophrenia, the first being based upon the sizable research that centre on family interventions, which have been successful in reducing patient relapse in schizophrenic families (Pilling et al., 2002). Family interventions are important to consider as they became established treatments during a phase where drug treatments were the main focus of attention in this field and so opened the area of non biological treatment for schizophrenia. And as I will touch upon later drug therapies are frequently used to reduce psychotic symptoms and relapse but these treatments rarely provide the answer, with as many as 50% of patients suffering from persistent psychotic symptoms when adhering to pharmacological treatments (Dickerson, 2000). The other aspect that has seen CBT be considered as a treatment for schizophrenia is that it has been effective in treating a range of non-psychotic disorders both mild and more serious (e.g., Hawton, Salkovskis, Kirk, & Clark, 1989; Clark & Fairburn, 1997). The range of effective CB therapies stem from early studies where depression and anxiety disorders were the subject of interest (Beck et al., 1979; Barlow, 1988) to more serious psychotic disorders, such as bipolar disorder (Basco, Rush, 1995; Perry et al, 1999) and personality disorders (Beck et al, 1990). While the success of family intervention, a non drug related therapy, and CBT's success in treating various disorders provide evidence for the potential of CBT in treating schizophrenia they have been developed amid a backdrop in which drug therapy has been extensively explored, but has failed to produce a whole solution to the complexities exhibited by schizophrenia sufferers. It is likely then that as an intervention for schizophrenia CBT will provide a part solution rather than an all-encompassing answer. Detailed study of patients' experiences has led to a greater understanding of the stress suffered by patients who go on to develop coping mechanisms, which can be treated using CBT, to deal with the symptoms of their illness (Mcnally, Goldberg, 1997). The fact then that there are so many aspects to this disease means that it would be impossible to provide a comprehensive review in this paper but I will discuss a number of aspects within the field. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has largely emerged from the UK where a number of centres have developed CBT conventions and tested them in clinical trials. In a study by Jackson et al, 1998 in which the therapist engages with the patient shortly after the first psychotic symptoms have subsided. The focus of the therapy is the patient's adaptation to the psychotic illness and secondary symptoms. Patients who received CBT and those who refused CBT were compared with those who did not qualify for CBT on either of the conditions and who lived outside the region. When compared with the control group those who received CBT adapted better to the illness, understood the illness more (the Explanatory model), scored better on the Quality of Life Scale and the Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms (SANS). However the CBT group only outperformed the CBT refusal group on the adaptation to the illness. There was no significant difference in the relapse rates of either group. This particular study is limited by pre-treatment differences. The control group had a mean duration of psychosis of 91 days and the CBT patients 19 days; also the reliability of the study was not reported. Thus this study which focused on early intervention showed only slight benefit of CBT.

As-well as help the patient to adapt to their illness early on, cognitive interventions can also challenge the patient's long held belief system by verbally...
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