Successfully Breaking a 20-Year Cycle of Hospitalizations With Recovery-Oriented Cognitive Therapy for Schizophrenia

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Abstract

Individuals with severe and persistent schizophrenia can present challenges (e.g., difficulties sustaining motivation and conducting information processing tasks) to the implementation of recovery-oriented care. We present a successful application of recovery-oriented cognitive therapy (CT-R), a fusion of the spirit and principles of the recovery movement with the evidence base and know-how of cognitive therapy, that helped an individual with schizophrenia move along her recovery path by overcoming specific obstacles, including a 20-year cycle of hospitalizations (five per year), daily phone calls to local authorities, threatening and berating “voices,” the belief that she would be killed at any moment, and social isolation. Building on strengths, treatment included collaboratively identifying meaningful personal goals that were broken down into successfully accomplishable tasks (e.g., making coffee) that disconfirmed negative beliefs and replaced the phone calling. At the end of treatment and at a 6-month follow-up, the phone calls had ceased, psychosocial functioning and neurocognitive performance had increased, and avolition and positive symptoms had decreased. She was not hospitalized once in 24 months. Results suggest that individuals with schizophrenia have untapped potential for recovery that can be mobilized through individualized, goal-focused psychosocial interventions.

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