Treating Schizophrenia With CBT

  • This second SharePost is an interview I conducted with Dr. Rob Udewitz, the director of Behavior Therapy of New York, a private therapy center that uses cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and biofeedback to help adult and children.


    What kinds of questions should a person ask when they talk to a therapist they want to consider working with?

    Nowadays it is common for therapists to say that they use CBT techniques in therapy. It's important for prospective clients to ask the therapist for some examples to be sure they have had training.

    Who can benefit from CBT and what mental illnesses does it treat?  What is the goal of CBT?

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    CBT is the treatment of choice for anxiety disorders like panic disorder, phobias and OCD. I believe that CBT approaches can be applied effectively to all mental illnesses. With some disorders it is also important to have psychiatric support in place as well.

    There can be many goals for CBT and therapists will often talk about the client's goals in the first session. Generally CBT seeks to help clients achieve balance in their thinking and lifestyle.

    Can you talk more specifically about how it is used to treat schizophrenia?

    CBT can be effective in helping people with schizophrenia by helping them achieve a more balanced lifestyle. For example, CBT practitioners will often talk to clients about maintaining good sleep habits and offer effective stress management strategies. These approaches can help people with schizophrenia maintain positive work and family relationships.

    Describe a typical session with the therapist.

    We generally go over some homework from the previous week at the start of the session. This might include thought logs or examining some behavioral goals. A session might also include practicing a process such as gradual exposure, relaxation or any number of behavioral techniques.

    What kinds of homework assignments does the therapist commonly give?

    We often give clients thought logs where they are asked to chart thoughts associated with upsetting feelings. Behavioral homework might include an exposure exercise for fears and anxiety or some relaxation procedures.

    How long does the therapy last, how many sessions are used and how will the client know when to end the therapy?

    The therapy usually doesn't have a set amount of sessions. Clients set goals at the outset of therapy. Goal setting helps the client and therapist realize when it is time to end therapy or whether to set new goals.

    How can someone find a good therapist in his or her city or town in the U.S.?
    People can find a CBT provider in their area at the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies web site. 

    How much does a typical session cost and can it be covered by health insurance?

    Costs can vary and is covered if the psychologist is in your insurance network. Some people have out-of-network coverage that might cover part of the cost if the therapist does not take your insurance.  You might have to get the visits pre-authorized.

    How will a person know if the therapy has been effective?  Booster sessions can be used, right?

  • People usually know that therapy is working because they generally feel happier and more balanced. Many people come back for booster sessions

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    How soon should the person begin to see results?

    Clients usually have a sense if CBT is helpful for them within several sessions

    Any other suggestions you can give.  One thing I know is that the person has to keep using the techniques after the formal sessions end, right?

    Exactly. It is crucial to generalize the work from the office to the client's everyday life.





    Coming up in April:


    SharePosts focused on how schizophrenia is diagnosed and typical symptoms and the difference between the symptoms.


    Other SharePosts in the coming months will talk about how to help a loved one who has schizophrenia and mothers who have schizophrenia.

Published On: March 25, 2011