The advent of novel antipsychotic medications has created a need for psychotherapy tailored to this population. Sudden reduction in pervasive, persistent delusions and hallucinations, and recovery of motivation, energy, volition, and the ability to experience pleasure from something other than cigarettes is a mixed blessing. Patients are relieved of terrible suffering but left with new problems. Shedding the lifelong identity of a mental patient, they no longer need case management but require help adjusting to major changes in their thinking and functioning. Kathleen Degen and Ellen Nasper describe group therapy that helps patients identify and cope with unexpected, intense feelings such as sadness or painful memories of childhood trauma, increase their interpersonal skills, and advance their sense of self beyond that of their label as mental patients. The authors show how to build on the phenomenal changes that the new medications provide.
Kathleen Degen, M.D., is director of the Tardive Dyskinesia Clinica and the Clozeril Program at the Greater Bridgeport Community Mental Health Center. She is also assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine. Ellen Nasper, Ph.D., is director of intake at the Greater Bridgeport Community Mental Health Center and director of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Project of the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. She is assistant clinical professor of psychology in psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine.