Individual psychotherapy involves regularly scheduled talks between the patient and a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric social worker, or nurse. The sessions may focus on
current or past problems, experiences, thoughts, feelings, or relationships. By sharing experiences with a trained empathic person – talking about their world with someone outside it – individuals with schizophrenia
may gradually come to understand more about themselves and their problems. They can also learn to sort out the real from the unreal and distorted.
Mental health professionals often do not suggest psychotherapy for individuals with schizophrenia, thinking that it is not effective. That is probably true of the insight-oriented psychotherapies that are
non-directive, and rely on the client to spontaneously identify problems and discuss them. However, recent studies indicate that supportive, reality-oriented, individual psychotherapy, and cognitive-behavioral
approaches that teach coping and problem-solving skills, can be beneficial for outpatients with schizophrenia. However, psychotherapy is not a substitute for antipsychotic medication, and it is most helpful once
drug treatment first has relieved a patient's psychotic symptoms.
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