Targeting affect leads to reduced paranoia in people with psychosis: a single case series

Daniel Silva, Tess Maguire, Pamela McSherry, Katherine Newman-Taylor
Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy 2020 October 19, : 1-12

BACKGROUND: Current psychological interventions for psychosis focus primarily on cognitive and behavioural management of delusions and hallucinations, with modest outcomes. Emotions are not usually targeted directly, despite evidence that people with psychosis have difficulty identifying, accepting and modifying affective states.

AIMS: This study assessed the impact of emotion regulation skills practice on affect and paranoia in seven people who met criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.

METHOD: The study utilised a single case ABA design and measured emotion regulation skills, affect and paranoia over baseline, intervention and withdrawal of intervention phases. We predicted that eight sessions of skills rehearsal would lead to improved emotion regulation, reduced negative affect, increased positive affect, and reduced paranoia.

RESULTS: Most participants were able to learn to regulate their emotions, and reported reduced negative affect and paranoia. There was no clear pattern of change for positive affect.

CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that emotion can be targeted in psychosis, and is associated with reduced paranoia. Emotion regulation may constitute a key treatment target in cognitive behavioural therapy for psychosis.

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