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Group Therapy for Schizophrenic Patients

Nick Kanas, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-172-4
  • Item #8172

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Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that disrupts thought, mood, and behavior and afflicts 1% of the population worldwide. In the United States alone, some three million people will experience the pain and anguish of this severe, chronic illness, and millions more of their family and friends will be affected indirectly. Although antipsychotic medications generally are considered to be the primary treatment intervention for this condition, these drugs are not cures. Symptoms in many patients fail to respond adequately to drug treatment, and even patients continue to experience psychosocial problems. There is a critical need for new treatment approaches that are safe and that will help these patients deal effectively with their inner and outer worlds.

In controlled studies, group therapy has been found to be a useful adjunct to medication to help schizophrenic patients cope with their illness and relate better to others. Group Therapy for Schizophrenic Patients acquaints mental health practitioners with a safe, helpful, and cost-effective method of treatment that has resulted from more than 20 years of clinical practice and research. Practical guidelines and clinical vignettes help the reader in leading such groups in inpatient, and outpatient, and short-term settings. The book considers important theoretical and clinical issues, such as treatment goals, patient selection, relevant discussion topics, and therapeutic process. Although this book is basically a how-to treatment manual, it does include chapters about history, theory, and research involving group therapy with schizophrenic patients.

Health care workers and trainees who provide services to schizophrenic patients and their families will find Group Therapy for Schizophrenic Patients of particular interest. The book is beneficial for students as well as experienced practitioners, for staff in state and federal hospitals as well as in managed care settings and private offices, for researchers as well as clinicians, and for experienced group therapists as well as novices in this therapeutic modality.


  • Nature of schizophrenia. Historical issues. Theoretical issues. Clinical issues: group format. Clinical issues: treatment strategies. Clinical issues: group process. Research issues. Conclusions. Index.

About the Authors

Nick Kanas, M.D., is Professor and Director of the Group Therapy Training Program in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. He is the Assistant Chief of the Psychiatry Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California. Dr. Kanas is a Fellow of both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Group Psychotherapy Association. He currently directs a NASA-funded study involving crew member interactions in space. Dr. Kanas has written more than 70 papers, books, and book chapters on group therapy and small-group behavior.

This brief book is a timely, valuable synopsis from which any group therapist can profit. It is surprisingly comprehensive, given its brevity. It is not a manualized 'cookbook' but it is a highly readable, instructive 'how-to' book that is practical for the busy clinician engaged in long- to short-term work with schizophrenia.—Psychiatric Times

Given the characteristics of schizophrenia, group therapy would seem to be an especially valuable treatment modality. Its interpersonal nature presents a forum for these patients to share ways of coping with their symptoms, to gain support and test reality in the here and now of the sessions, and to improve their ability to relate with other people. . . . Group Therapy for Schizophrenic Patients is an excellent monograph of creativity, significance, and stimulation.—Takashi Yamaguchi, M.D., C.G.P., CEO, Japan Association of Group Psychotherapy, International Association of Group Psychotherapy (Hiroshima, 1996), Tokyo, Japan

This is an admirably thoroughgoing and comprehensive study of group therapy for schizophrenics. It comes from the author's 20 years of utilization of such groups, and by its chapters on the nature of schizophrenics and by its lucid exposition of the historical, theoretical, clinical and research issues in employing group methods with these patients, furnishes the reader with a definitive grasp of the values and limitations of this medium with schizophrenics.—GROUP: Journal of the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society

Here is a book that is suited to modern conditions and contemporary efforts to perfect short-term, cost-effective treatments. Dr. Kanas has provided us with a psychotherapy manual for clinicians. . . . I recommend this volume to all who work with schizophrenic patients. It is suitable for both students and experienced clinicians, as well as for researchers.—Howard D. Kibel, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York

From reviews of the literature, extensive clinical experience, and findings from process and outcome studies, Dr. Kanas makes a comprehensive case for the usefulness of group therapy for schizophrenic patients. His 'integrative model' capitalizes on the strengths of several theoretical orientations and is applicable to both impatient and outpatient settings. Its practical approach will appeal to mental health workers from a variety of disciplines.—William E. Piper, Ph.D., Professor, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of Alberta, Editor, International Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Kanas's wonderfully readable book presents us with an extremely lucid account of an effective and relatively simple approach to the treatment of schizophrenic patients. He very clearly outlines the difficulties these patients experience and how the medical approach to their treatment needs to combine with a psychosocial approach. Given the characteristics of schizophrenia, group therapy would seem to be an especially valuable treatment modality, and it is to the latter that he devotes his book.—Felicity de Zulueta, M.D., Consultant Psychotherapist, Honorary Senior Lecturer and Group Analyst in Charing Cross Hospital, London, England

While not demonstrating that his approach is superior to others, Kanas does provide impressive patient acceptance of his approach with less than a 20 percent drop out rate and does provide before-and-after results that confirm positive outcomes.—Washington Psychiatry

This book is, therefore, a valuable addition to the literature and should be a must for all individuals treating both acutely and chronically ill schizphrenic patients in a wide variety of settings.—International Journal of Group Psychotherapy

Dr. Kanas has written a very readable and well-referenced book. The tables and vignettes used throughout make the information highly accessible. Mental health professionals of all disciplines who are new to providing group therapy to individuals with schizophrenia will find it a particularly useful text.—Psychiatric Services

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