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The Psychotherapy Curriculum

Schizophrenia: The Revolution in Treatment

Program Description

More than two million people in the United States have a diagnosis of schizophrenia. For the last half century until even now, the treatment for most has consisted mainly of strong doses of antipsychotic drugs that blunt hallucinations and delusions but come with significant and unpleasant side effects. Now, there has been remarkable research leading to what will be a revolution in understanding and treating this debilitating mental illness.

In this program we interview first, a neuropsychologist who reports on new neurodevelopmental models of etiology, showing that many risk factors can give rise to schizophrenia and to the psychosis-spectrum disorders. Next, moving to treatment, we speak with the program director of one of the clinical sites which was used to study how psychosis might be treated in its early stage. Following that we interview a psychiatrist who applies self-psychology in his very close and connected treatment of early episode patients. Finally, we hear from the mother of a schizophrenic child who tells us very directly what the families of these patients need -- and don't receive.

Learning Objectives

1. Become familiar with new models of understanding the etiology of schizophrenia.
2. Identify the combination of treatment methods found, in a recent major study, to work best for schizophrenic patients.
3. Recognize that inside each schizophrenic patient is a person with emotions who wants to be understood, and that is is through understanding these emotions the therapist can make a real connection with the patient.
4. Recognize and appreciate that families of schizophrenic patients will need resources and help in every stage of the patient's life.


Connecting with the Schizophrenic Patient - David Garfield, M.D.

Regardless the level or type of medication used, the demands of working with psychotic/schizophrenic patients are enormous. In this interview, Dr. Garfield reminds us of the importance of listening, from the very first minutes of the very first sessions, to our schizophrenic patients with empathy, reminding us to see our patients as whole persons.

Early Intervention in First Episode Schizophrenia Makes the Difference - Tia Dole, Ph.D.

Tia Dole, Ph.D. is program director of the OnTrackNY site at the Mental Health Association of Westchester, New York, which runs a program that seeks input from psychosis patients about their treatment. This program is one of a number of new first-break programs which includes people struggling with a first psychotic break from reality, most of them in their late teens and 20s as equals in decisions about care, including drug dosage. In addition to drugs and some psychotherapy, these new programs offer other forms of support, such as help with jobs and school, as well as family counseling. In a landmark study published in fall, 2015, government-backed researchers reported that after two years, people who had this combined package were doing better on a variety of measures than those who received treatment as usual.

Life with a Schizophrenia Child - Karen Mellow,J.D,

When schizophrenia appears in early childhood, not only does the family struggle to cope, but also the family must grieve the loss of hope of normalcy at every stage in the child's life. Here to tell us in brutal frankness about what life with a schizophrenic child is like is Karen Mellow, a retired administrative law judge and parent of a schizophrenic child, who has advocated for and spoken frequently on behalf of the families of schizophrenic children.

Neurodevelopment and the Etiology of Schizophrenia - Elaine Walker, Ph.D.

Dr. Elaine Walker. a neuropsychologist reports on new neurodevelopmental models of etiology of Schizophrenia. While there is variability among contemporary models with respect to the behavioral and biological factors they emphasize, Dr. Walker states that most share in common the assumption that congenital vulnerabilities, normal developmental processes, and environmental factors interact in the etiological process. In other words, many risk factors can give rise to schizophrenia and to the psychosis-spectrum disorders.

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“I'm so pleased with being able to earn CEs at home. As a mother of young children, my time is fragmented.This format is perfect.”

... Sarah S.

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