Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for Schizophrenia

by Christina Bruni Patient Expert

Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) or cognitive remediation therapy can be considered an evidence-based intervention used to improve cognitive and social functioning in individuals with schizophrenia.

Medication helps control positive symptoms like paranoia, hallucinations and delusions yet is largely ineffective on its own against a negative symptom like cognition.

Impaired cognition takes the form of deficits in paying attention, remembering, solving problems and making decisions.

Brain imaging studies in clients with schizophrenia indicate reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for these actions.

Cognitive impairments effect a great number of people living with schizophrenia and impede their normal functioning in work, school and relationships.

A correlated impairment is not being able to perceive social cues to engage in social interactions.
This can lead to isolation.

CET leads to increases in gray matter, suggesting the brain can be "trained."

CET is used together with medication and therapy in a holistic approach.
The 48-week program is best used for people whose psychoses have been stabilized yet still exhibit cognitive impairment.

Eight to 12 participants and two CET coaches meet once a week for 3 1/2 hours.
One hour is focused on computer exercises done in pairs, and group exercises to improve social cognition.
There is also individual "coaching" and psychoeducation talks on proper nutrition, sleep and exercise.

The attendees complete weekly homework assignments and report back and share their experiences.

Thirty-two CET groups are run across 21 sites in 10 states.
Seven new sites are planned, also for Kansas and Wisconsin.
You can log on the CETCleveland Website for more details about the Center for Cognition and Recovery that leads this movement.

The positive results of CET were shown to be lasting in a three-year post CET study.
The effects can sometimes last for 10 or even 12 years.

Participants must attend every week of the 48-week program.
No shortcuts can be taken.

Christina Bruni
Meet Our Writer
Christina Bruni

Christina Bruni wrote about schizophrenia for HealthCentral as a Patient Expert. She is a mental health activist and freelance journalist.