Schizophrenia and Talk Therapy

Posted on October 28, 2011
In what is touted in The New York Times as a major study from the University of Pennsylvania, cognitive therapy sessions were found to be of benefit to people diagnosed with schizophrenia. Thirty-one people – hardly a definitive sample size - participated in the study. The hope of the study seems to be that cognitive therapy may become an interesting adjunct to medication as a form of treatment.

It’s frustrating to me that people are still looking to talk therapy to help people with schizophrenia when there are so many more effective, not to mention cost-efficient, interventions. If I were to make a list of the most important components in assisting someone who has schizophrenia, talk therapy would be near the bottom. Supported Employment, Supported Housing, benefits counseling - these are all more useful to people with schizophrenia who are trying to make lives for themselves in the community. It’s better still if these components are embedded in a Working Community, like Fountain House, - a place where people can come and connect with one another as they contribute their skills to accomplish a common goal.

And yet there is a persistent drum beat coming from certain quarters which constantly circles back, advocating for talk therapy to be the highest priority.  Why?  Because that’s the way large groups of social workers and psychologists would like to practice or work. It’s like putting a round peg in a square hole.

Kenneth J. Dudek
President, Fountain House

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