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Types of Treatment for Schizophrenia Without Medication

Schizophrenia is a complex mental health condition that is characterized by difficulties perceiving one’s environment and communicating with others. Treatment for this disorder typically includes a combination of medication and therapy. In some cases, people can receive effective treatment for schizophrenia without medication.

Why Do People Prefer Treatment for Schizophrenia Without Medication?

Psychopharmacology – or the use of medication in mental health treatment – is a common element of care for people who have schizophrenia. However, some patients, families, or healthcare providers may prefer treatment for schizophrenia without medication for multiple reasons including: 

  • It can be difficult to ensure that people who have schizophrenia will comply with their doctors’ guidance about taking prescription medication. As described in an August 2013 article in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, “Nonadherence to medication is a recognized problem and may be the most challenging aspect of [schizophrenia] treatment.”
  • Many medications that are commonly used to treat schizophrenia have adverse side effects. These can include dry mouth, constipation, and weight gain; sexual dysfunction; persistent agitation; involuntary muscle contractions and uncontrollable movement of the lips, jaw, and tongue; inflammation of the heart; and dangerously low white blood cell count.

Types of Therapy for Schizophrenia Treatment

Whether in combination with psychopharmacology or as a means of treatment for schizophrenia without medication, the following types of therapy can help people manage symptoms and achieve better quality of life. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, can help people replace self-defeating thoughts with more productive ways of thinking and behaving. Schizophrenia patients who take part in CBT sessions can improve their coping skills, develop a healthier inner monologue, focus their attention, and become more adept at calming themselves.

At December 2018 meta-analysis of patients who received cognitive behavioral therapy for schizophrenia found that more than 57% experienced some level of improvement:

  • 44.5% of patients achieved a least a 20% reduction from baseline in overall symptoms. The researchers defined this minimally improved.
  • 13.2% of patients achieve 50% or greater reduction in overall symptoms when compared to baseline, which the researchers described as much improved. 

Cognitive Remediation Therapy (CRT)

Cognitive remediation therapy, or CRT, is a form of behavior training that can improve both conscious and unconscious mental activities. Topics that may be addressed during CRT sessions for schizophrenia may include learning, memory, attention, problem-solving, judgement, and self-consciousness. 

Research indicates that CRT for schizophrenia is most effective when it is combined with other rehabilitation-focused therapies.

Family Interventions & Support Services

Family members can plan a vital role helping people with schizophrenia achieve greater independence and life a more productive and satisfying life. The general goal of family interventions and related support services is to empower parents, siblings and other loved ones so that they can best support the individual who has schizophrenia.

Family-focused interventions can take many forms, including psychoeducation, family therapy, stress management skill development, problem-solving exercises, and emotional processing sessions. 

Social Skills Training (SST)

As its name indicates, social skills training, or SST, focuses on specific capabilities that can improve the social functioning of people who have schizophrenia. 

SST sessions may include role playing and modeled learning activities to help people develop fundamental skills such as maintaining eye contact, incorporating intonations into speech pattens, and using gestures and facial expressions in an appropriate manner. During an SST session, a patient may watch someone act out the desired behavior, engage in the behavior themselves, and receive feedback on their performance. They may also be encouraged to practice their newly developed skills in real-world situations when treatment is not in session.

Social skills training lessons may be built around common social situations such as meeting new people, going shopping, and attending a doctor’s appointment.

Assertive Community Training (ACT)

The American Psychological Association’s Society of Clinical Psychology (SCP) has reported that there is strong research support for including assertive community training, or ACT, into treatment programs for schizophrenia. 

The SCP describes ACT as “a multidisciplinary team approach to intensive case management in which the team members share a caseload, have a high frequency of patient contact (typically at least once a week), low patient to staff ratios, and provide outreach to patients in the community.”

The general goals of ACT for people who have schizophrenia are help patients successfully adapt to community-based living and minimize their need for hospitalization.

Begin Treatment for Schizophrenia in Nashville, TN

Arbor Wellness provides multiple levels of personalized care for adults whose lives have been disrupted by the symptoms of schizophrenia and other mental health disorders. Programming options at our schizophrenia treatment center in Nashville, Tennessee, include residential treatment, a partial hospitalization program (PHP), and an intensive outpatient program (IOP). At every level of care, our patients engage in a dynamic array of treatment activities and receive compassionate guidance from a team of skilled professionals. To learn more about how we can help, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our admissions page or call us today.