Article Review: Psychosocial Treatment of Schizophrenia

Canadian Treatment Guidelines for psychosocial treatments of schizophrenia were recently updated.  Each of the following treatments were supported by at least one randomized control study, though many were supported by metanalyses of randomized controlled studies.  The authors emphasize that psychosocial treatment should be provided in tandem with medical treatment.


  1. Family Interventions. The way family members respond to or interact with the patient can have a significant effect on clinical outcomes including reducing likelihood of hospitalization and reduction of symptoms.  Family intervention should be offered to all families once a diagnosis has been made.  This family intervention should include at least 10 sessions over the course of 3 months and topics that cover:
    1. Communication skills
    2. Problem solving
    3. Psychoeducation


  • Work opportunities. It is important to offer supported employment opportunities, volunteer or prevocational/educational opportunities to individuals with schizophrenia if possible.


  • CBT for psychosis. This treatment has been found to reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms in individuals with schizophrenia, a minimum dose of 16 sessions is recommended. Sessions should focus on raising awareness of the relationship between their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and symptoms. In addition, therapists should encourage individuals to evaluate how their perceptions, beliefs, and thought processes that contribute to symptoms; and they should promote helpful ways of coping with symptoms and reducing stress.


Other treatments, including life skills, social skills and patient psychoeducation about schizophrenia don’t have sufficient empirical evidence to be recommended at this time, but they are currently being offered to many patients, and they may be beneficial. There is new interest in incorporating mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy into treatments for individuals with schizophrenia as well, but again, research on these interventions is limited.



Norman, R., Lecomte, T., Addington, D., & Anderson, E. (2017). Canadian treatment guidelines on psychosocial treatment of schizophrenia in adults. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry62(9), 617-623.


Maria Stacy, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern



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