Psychosocial treatments

Psychological treatments are valued by those receiving them (90% found them helpful, they have demonstrable effectiveness and, even with modest cost assumptions, appear to reduce high cost care in people with psychosis, bipolar disorder and severe emotional difficulties (‘borderline personality disorder’).

  • Common mental disorders, e.g. depression and anxiety disorders, can also be severe problems and are frequently affected by underlying issues (‘personality disorders’) which can respond to NICE-approved psychological treatments.
  • Cognitive behaviour therapy is recommended in NICE and most other international guidelines for severe mental illness including psychosis and bipolar disorder as an adjunct to medication.
  • Art therapies are recommended for negative symptoms of schizophrenia (NICE)  though one RCT has recently found group art therapy to have no clinical advantage over activity groups for people with this diagnosis.
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and Mentalisation-based therapy are recommended for ‘borderline personality disorder’.
  • Family work has demonstrable effectiveness in psychosis and bipolar disorder and some evidence for severe emotional difficulties (‘borderline personality disorder’)
  • Social skills training:
    • Is a structured psychosocial intervention (group or individual) that aims to enhance social performance, and reduce distress and difficulty in social situations
    • Has been popular in the USA since the 1980s but received less support in the UK due to doubts about its generalisability to ‘real life’.

However many people and their families who could benefit from them, do not currently receive them (see availability of services).