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Sunday, 09 Jun 2019

Supporting Someone with Schizophrenia? (Here Are Your Treatment Options)

By Private Therapy Clinic

Seeing loved ones experiencing a hard time even in the short-term can be difficult. Nobody wants to see those close to them suffer, unnecessarily. Even worse still, is having to stand by powerless unable to make a positive contribution to their well-being. Supporting someone with schizophrenia is challenging to say the very least. It can amount to something resembling a full-time job for those in the role of caregiver to the individual.

Apart from the obvious emotional toll of seeing a family member or close friend endure their experiences, the mental cost it takes – on a personal level – to care for someone with this condition can be quite taxing. The good news is there’s never been more support available to alleviate the pressure. Strides are continually being made in the accessibility and quality of services specifically for those suffering from schizophrenia.

If you’ve recently found yourself with the responsibility of caring for someone with this condition, you may not be aware of the options available to you. But it’s important to point out with schizophrenia, there is no one ‘tried and tested approach,’ or ‘cure’ per se. Schizophrenia is a complex and chronic condition that requires the use of a variety of modalities to manage the symptoms successfully. Here’s a rundown of the options you should look to explore:

Community Treatment & Support

Community-based treatment and support are made up of a diverse range of professionals from social workers, community mental health care nurses, occupational therapists, counsellors, psychologists, psychotherapists and psychiatrists. Depending on the type and severity of the condition you may or may not have contact with all of these people. After someone has experienced their first episode of schizophrenia, if you haven’t already been referred to an early intervention team, this should be your priority. This team is made up of psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health nurses, social workers and support workers.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

The role of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in treating schizophrenia isn’t in curing the condition, but to improve the quality of life the individual enjoys. This is done by way of a collaborative therapeutic relationship, which focuses on understanding the problem and teaching the person techniques they can use for managing their symptoms, independently. The goal is to empower, not to create a patient for life. Some of the approaches used include, cognitive restructuring, behavioural experiments/reality testing, self-monitoring and coping skills training.


Anti-psychotics are the form of medication most commonly used for schizophrenia. There are two types that can be prescribed by your doctor or psychiatrist, typical or atypical. The typical class is made up of an older generation of meds, while the atypical category comprises the newer treatments. In total, there are around nineteen of these antipsychotics, each with their own particular strengths and side effects. So it’s important your doctor or psychiatrist runs a thorough examination before making any decision on which course of medication to prescribe. Anti-psychotics can be taken for the long-term management of symptoms, or may only be required in times of acute episodes.

Cognitive Remediation Therapy

This is a specialised type of treatment that works to improve the functioning of the individual’s mental processes. With the onset of schizophrenia, neurocognitive functions such as attention, working memory, cognitive flexibility, and planning and executive functioning all become impaired. When coupled with the underlying symptoms already present, it makes everyday situations exceedingly hard to engage with. CRT is a computer-based treatment that looks to improve this by encouraging the brain to create new neural pathways and synapses through the completion of tasks that focus on memory, attention and processing. Studies have shown it to be highly effective in improving the interpersonal and work-based skill of those with schizophrenia.

Family-Centred Therapy

The burden and duty of care placed on family members is quite a sizable one for those supporting people with schizophrenia – more so than nearly any other mental condition. Family-centred therapy is an oppurtunity to access support and learn the strategies to provide a better quality of life for the person in your care without succumbing to the negative effects associated with such pressure. Individual therapy sessions can often be structured for you to attend, so you can provide background information and additional support if you feel it would benefit.

Crisis Resolution Teams

In the event of an acute psychotic episode where you feel it’s beyond your ability to seek outside help, and don’t want to admit or hospitalise the person in your care, it’s possible to contact a Crisis Resolution Team (CRT). This service aims to treat people in the most comfortable environment possible, due to the effect forcing someone who’s already distressed into a foreign environment can have on their condition. Crisis Resolution Teams are briefed and prepared to visit you at home, and are specially trained to bring about quick resolutions while avoiding escalation.

***If either you or anyone else you know is exhibiting any of these signs, and feel as though you would like further advice on schizophrenia, one of our specialists would be happy to provide you with a FREE 15 MINUTE CONSULTATION.

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