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David Baxter

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Cognitive therapy improves emotional intelligence in schizophrenia patients
19 January 2007
Schizophr Res 2007; 89: 308?311

Cognitive enhancement therapy (CET) could help improve social cognition in patients with schizophrenia, say researchers who believe benefits can be achieved in the early stages of the illness.

"Cognitive deficits in the processing of social and emotional information have been widely documented in schizophrenia research and represent important targets for treatment, yet both psychosocial and pharmacological strategies to address these deficits have been lacking," observe Shaun Eack, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania, USA, and colleagues.

The team therefore examined the effects of CET in 38 individuals who were in the early stages of schizophrenia. The participants were randomly assigned to receive either CET or enriched supportive therapy (EST).

The 18 patients receiving CET completed approximately 60 hours of computer training in attention, memory, and problem-solving. They also participated in a weekly social-cognitive group that focused on learning how to take the perspective of others, read non-verbal cues, manage emotions, and appraise the social context.

The remaining patients assigned to EST worked through components from the basic and intermediate phases of personal therapy, which focus on stress reduction strategies and psycho-education.

After a year of treatment, results on the Mayer?Salovey?Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test showed significantly greater improvement in emotional intelligence among patients receiving CET than among those given EST.

CET was particularly beneficial in helping patients to understand and manage their emotions as well as those of others, and to use their emotions to aid thinking and decision-making.

"While it will be important for future research to examine the effects of CET on other dimensions of social cognition, the ability to understand the meaning of emotions within a social context and apply appropriate regulation strategies when necessary is an important cornerstone of healthy social interactions," Eack and team write in the journal Schizophrenia Research.

abstract
 

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