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Schizophrenia Counseling and Treatment

Schizophrenia Counseling and Treatment

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that impacts the individual’s thoughts and behavior. It can lead to very disorganized thoughts and speech patterns becoming very disruptive to an individual. It may be difficult for some surfers to separate reality from fantasy and can be a very debilitating mental health condition. Treatment is available with a combination of medications and also psychotherapy and counseling. A psychotherapist will help the individual cope and process their thoughts in a safe place and develop coping skills. It is common for an individual with schizophrenia to need treatment throughout their lives and counseling has been found to be beneficial for sufferers.

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How Can Mental Health Counseling be Effective?

Whilst coping with schizophrenia can be challenging, mental health counseling can dramatically ease the symptoms for sufferers. There are various forms of psychotherapy and some of those that have been found to be useful at treating schizophrenia include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can assist an individual in coping with their stress levels and the side effects of any medication they are prescribed. Coping strategies will be discussed in depth between the therapist and client to ensure a collaborative approach. According to a review in 2014, CBT has been found to be very successful in treating positive presenting symptoms including:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Confused thoughts and disorganized thinking patterns
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Erratic movements

Family therapy may assist an individual and their families in understanding schizophrenia and how it impacts an individual’s daily levels of functioning.

There are also several types of schizophrenia including:

  • Paranoid schizophrenia - this is the most common form of schizophrenia and it may also develop in later life. Symptoms include hallucinations and delusions. Speech and emotions may not be impacted.
  • Hebephrenic schizophrenia - disorganized thoughts and speech and showing very little emotions, facial expressions or tone of voice.
  • Catatonic schizophrenia - a sufferer may shut down altogether and have very limited expressions and people often lose the urge to go to the bathroom and look after themselves. It can be a medical emergency if they stay in the catatonic state for hours.
  • Undifferentiated schizophrenia - an individual may not express themselves and they may be confused or seem paranoid.
  • Schizoaffective disorder - this person has delusional thinking but they also present with symptoms of a mood disorder including depression, mania, or hypomania.

Symptoms: What to look for?

A diagnosis of schizophrenia usually occurs in the late teenage years to the early thirties and seems to emerge earlier in males. Most of the symptoms of schizophrenia fall into 3 categories:

  1. Psychotic symptoms may include changes in vision, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Changes in behavior may also be seen and individuals may lose touch with reality and may suffer from hallucinations, delusions and thought disorders.

  2. Negative symptoms include a disinterest in life and activities, social withdrawal, difficulty regulating and expressing emotions including reduced facial body language and reduced verbal communication.

  3. Cognitive symptoms include difficulties in memory, concentration and attention. This causes difficulties in daily life such as making decisions and problem-solving. Individuals may experience that they are lacking purpose and also develop substance abuse issues.

Types of Treatments

Schizophrenia requires lifelong treatment in most cases even when symptoms have decreased or eased. In some cases hospitalization will be needed. A psychiatrist usually leads a team of mental health professionals including psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, counselors and nurses. Medication is useful for many suffering from schizophrenia and when combined with psychotherapy it is usually very successful.

  • Individual therapy - therapy can help an individual suffering from schizophrenia learn how to better cope.
  • Family therapy - supporting the whole family system to ensure caregivers are aligned in the treatment process.
  • Social skills training - working on developing social skills through social interactions and increasing personal development for those struggling with mental health disorders.
  • Schizophrenia support groups - group therapy to support individuals struggling with schizophrenia and support groups may also focus on various other self-help techniques. Hearing stories from other patients coping with schizophrenia can become very empowering.

Exploring Medications

Medications are usually an important part of the treatment plan for schizophrenia and antipsychotic medications are the most commonly prescribed. They are used to treat psychosis and positive symptoms in individuals with schizophrenia and also those suffering from severe depression and anxiety. They work by reducing levels of excess dopamine and they may also impact other neurotransmitters. There are several different types of antipsychotics including atypical antipsychotics, miscellaneous antipsychotic agents, phenothiazine antipsychotics and thioxanthenes.

Overcoming Schizophrenia Through Therapy

Studies conducted in the United States have shown that schizophrenia cannot be cured but over the years, mental health professionals and physicians have become better at treating schizophrenia and developing treatment options and resources to better understand adults and individuals suffering from schizophrenia. Research has shown that those who receive regular therapy are less likely to experience relapses and psychotic episodes after a diagnosis of psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Although, for treatment in therapy to be successful most people need to be taking their medication, as prescribed for certain mental disorders including schizophrenia.

Therapy may help an individual with schizophrenia to cope with symptoms of psychosis such as command hallucinations and paranoid delusions which can cause you to hear voices instructing you to act out destructively. These symptoms may make daily functioning difficult and you may experience an inability to cope with certain symptoms of schizophrenia. Therapy may also help you to form a different perception of coping with schizophrenia and help you during the recovery process. It may also help you to decrease your stress levels so the symptoms do not worsen, manage side effects from medication and to cope with other mental health conditions like social anxiety and depression which many people with schizophrenia experience.

A clinical psychologist or a doctor will usually conduct an assessment and ask questions to identify the type of mental health support you receive and your situation in relationships outside therapy from friends and family members. The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) claims that 64% of people believe that symptoms relating to split personalities form part of the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia which then increases the stigma associated with the diagnosis of schizophrenia. This is untrue information and forms many myths which may further increase the suffering of those experiencing mental conditions such as schizophrenia. In therapy, a therapist may provide recommendations to help provide resources and education to a person suffering from schizophrenia.

7 Cups can support you in coping with your diagnosis and reasoning of schizophrenia or perhaps offering care and support to a loved one struggling with mental health issues. Online therapy will support you in your mental health journey through the first steps to coping with schizophrenia in a way that works for you. 7 Cups is an on-demand emotional support platform and a caring and thriving community of people that support one another. The 7 Cups Community has helped over 60 million people in emotional distress since 2013. The community is available globally in 189 countries and 140 languages. We provide 1:1 free support sessions with a trained listener, personalized growth paths to help you feel better and online therapy with licensed therapists. Access to services can also be used through the mobile app.