The most effective treatment for early psychosis is Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC). The earlier a person experiencing psychosis receives CSC, the better his or her quality of life becomes. CSC’s team-based approach encourages the individual experiencing early psychosis to share in decisions about treatment and recovery goals.
CSC programs have six components:
- Case management—helping the individual develop problem-solving skills, manage medication and coordinate services
- Family support and education—giving families information and skills to support a loved one’s treatment and recovery
- Psychotherapy—learning to focus on resiliency, managing the condition, promoting wellness and developing coping skills
- Medication management—finding the best medication at the lowest possible dose
- Supported education and employment—supporting someone to continue or return to school or work
- Peer support—connecting the person with others who have been through similar experiences
Each component is provided by a team of specially trained healthcare professionals who help individuals get their lives back on track and realize their goals, such as finishing school or returning to work.
There are a growing number of first-episode psychosis or CSC programs around the country. Early Assessment and Support Alliance (EASA) and Strong 365 (a project of the One Mind Institute) collect and update information about existing CSC programs and offer helpful resources and information for youth, young adults and families. In communities without CSC or early psychosis programs, university medical schools will also have access to the most recent research on CSC and first-episode psychosis treatment, as will most psychiatrists that have related experience.
Treatment for psychosis often involves a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Several types of therapy can help individuals learn to manage their condition, while medication targets symptoms and helps to reduce their impact. How well treatment works depends on the cause(s) of the psychosis, its severity and its duration.
Therapy is essential in treating psychosis. Common therapies include the following:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)—teaches people to observe and change ineffective patterns of thinking. For psychosis, CBT teaches someone to critically evaluate an experience to determine whether or not the experience is real.
- Supportive psychotherapy—teaches a person to cope with developing and living with psychosis. The therapist attempts to reinforce a person’s healthy ways of thinking and reduce internal conflict.
- Cognitive enhancement therapy (CET)—builds brain capacity through the use of computer exercises and group work. Increasing cognitive functions, such as the ability to organize thoughts, is the ultimate goal.
- Family psychoeducation and support—gives families skills and support to help a loved one reach recovery. NAMI Basics, NAMI Family-To-Family and NAMI Family Support Groups are examples of programs the help people develop skills in collaboration, problem-solving and recovery support.
- Peer support and support—connects people with others who have been through similar experiences. NAMI Peer-To-Peer and NAMI Connection are examples of peer-led programs that equip individuals with the tools they need to realize recovery while building supportive, caring relationships.