Evidence-based psychotherapy for the prevention and treatment of first-episode psychosis



Hendrik Müller, Sonja Laier, Andreas Bechdolf

European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience

November 2014






The aim of psychotherapy among individuals at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis is to prevent transition to full-blown psychosis. Psychotherapy in individuals with a first-episode psychosis (FEP) aims to reduce relapse rates. Remission of (pre-) psychotic symptoms, psychosocial functioning, quality of life, comorbid disorders and self-esteem are also important outcomes in individuals at CHR and with FEP. Antipsychotics, Qmega-3-Fatty acids and psychotherapy have been found to be effective in CHR for most of these aims. Thereby psychotherapy presents a better benefit/risk ratio than antipsychotic medication. The most evidence-based intervention is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Psychotherapy is mostly offered to FEP patients within specialized early intervention services (including assertiveness community treatment and antipsychotic medication). Thereby, CBT is effective for positive symptoms and family intervention is particularly effective for the prevention of relapses. We introduce the principles of CBT for psychosis and suggest adaptions for individuals at CHR and FEP. We conclude that the needs of young people at CHR and with FEP are best met by specially designed, low threshold outpatient clinical services, which include intensive psychotherapy treatment. A number of countries have implemented early detection and intervention services based on this model, while the implementation within in Germany is still marginal.






Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee