Counseling for Psychosis
I like this photo to describe psychosis because the pieces of the apple don't fit together. You see the outline of a recognizable form, but it isn't assembled in a way that makes sense. This disorganization in thinking and behavior is often the hallmark feature of mental disorders with psychosis, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and delusional disorder.
Sometimes hallucinations accompany these disorders and can be either visual or auditory or both. You may see or hear something that others don't, like voices or shadows. You may feel disconnected from reality, or from yourself, and it may seem that you don't experience the world in the same way as others.
You may feel worried that others are out to get you, that people are following you or recording your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. You may believe that others are conspiring against you and that you must protect yourself.
These experiences are extremely disturbing and isolating, and are difficult to talk about.
Medications are very helpful with psychosis because the symptoms can severely limit everyday functioning. The illness may cause withdrawal from family and support systems, loss of jobs and housing, and use of substances to cope. Despite popular opinion, people experiencing psychosis are not necessarily dangerous. They are more likely to hurt themselves than hurt someone else. But the risk for suicide or self-harm is high, so seek treatment as soon as these symptoms are noticed.
Consult a psychiatrist when you think you or are loved one is experiencing a psychotic disorder. Know that you are not alone, that treatment is available, and that the condition can stabilize. Therapists can help families initiate, maintain, and modify treatment for their loved ones. Integrated care is especially important with these disorders because medical intervention is almost always needed. Psychotherapy with the client experiencing psychosis is helpful only when their symptoms are stabilized and they are not at risk of harming themselves or others.
More information about these disorders can be found through the American Psychiatric Association.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness shares a resource for recognizing the first episode of psychosis.
Read More About Psychosis On the Blog