Pathways of recovery: preventing further episodes of mental illness (monograph)

Coping skills training and cognitive behavioural approaches

Page last updated: 2006

Coping skills programs aim to help people manage stress or deal with persistent symptoms. Randomised controlled trials were reviewed for four coping skills programs by Mueser et al (2002). All these programs were quite different in their approach, ranging from an interactive approach centred around cognitive appraisal of perceived threat, to enhancing a sense of empowerment, but all had in common the use of cognitive-behavioural techniques. All four programs reviewed were shown to be effective in terms of reducing symptom severity.

Cognitive-behavioural approaches generally focus on modifying dysfunctional beliefs as well as improving coping skills, such as distraction. Mueser et al (2002) report on the outcomes of eight randomised controlled trials of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) programs. A consistent outcome of all the studies was that CBT was more effective than supportive counselling or standard care in reducing the severity of psychotic symptoms.