clinical psychology, psychological treatments

An Overview of the Evidence for Psychological Interventions for Psychosis: Results From Meta-Analyses


  • Tania M. Lincoln
  • Anya Pedersen


Background: There are numerous psychological approaches to psychosis that differ in focus, specificity and formats. These include psychodynamic, humanistic, cognitive-behavioural and third-wave-approaches, psychoeducation, various types of training-based approaches and family interventions.

Method: We briefly describe the main aims and focus of each of these approaches, followed by a review of their evidence-base in regard to improvement in symptoms, relapse and functioning. We conducted a systematic search for meta-analyses dating to 2017 for each of the approaches reviewed. Where numerous meta-analyses for an approach were available, we selected the most recent, comprehensive and methodologically sound ones.

Results: We found convincing short- and long-term evidence for cognitive behavioural approaches if the main aim is to reduce symptom distress. Evidence is also strong for psychoeducative family interventions that include skills training if the main aim is to reduce relapse and rehospitalisation. Acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness-based approaches, meta-cognitive and social skills training, as well as systemic family interventions, were also found to be efficacious, depending on the outcome of interest, but meta-analyses for these approaches were based on a comparatively lower number of outcome studies and a narrower selection of outcome measures. We found no convincing evidence for psychodynamic approaches, humanistic approaches or patient-directed psychoeducation (without including the family).

Conclusions: An array of evidence-based psychological therapies is available for psychotic disorders from which clinicians and patients can choose, guided by the strength of the evidence and depending on the outcome area focused on. Increased effort is needed in terms of dissemination and implementation of these therapies into clinical practice.