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Sixteen sessions of individual cognitive behavior therapy for people with psychosis (CBTp) is recommended. However, access to CBTp is poor, so the potential of low intensity CBTp (fewer than 16 sessions of face-to-face contact) is being explored. A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted of 10 controlled trials evaluating low intensity CBTp. Significant between-group effects were found on the primary outcome, symptoms of psychosis, at post-intervention (d=-0.46, 95% CI: -0.06, -0.86) and follow-up (d=-0.40, 95% CI: -0.06, -0.74). Study quality did not moderate post-intervention psychosis outcomes, nor did contact time/number of sessions or therapy format (individual versus group). Between-group effects on secondary outcomes (depression, anxiety and functioning) were not significant at post-intervention, but became significant at follow-up for depression and functioning outcomes (but not for anxiety). Overall, findings suggest that low intensity CBTp shows promise with effect sizes comparable to those found in meta-analyses of CBTp more broadly. We suggest that low intensity CBTp could help widen access. Future research is called for to identify mechanisms of change and to ascertain moderators of outcome so that low intensity CBTp targets key mechanisms (so that scarce therapy time is used effectively) and so that interventions offered are matched to patient need.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Psychol Rev




183 - 192


CBT, Cognitive therapy, IAPT, Improving access to psychological therapies, Low intensity, Meta-analysis, Psychosis, Schizophrenia, Cognitive Therapy, Humans, Psychotic Disorders, Treatment Outcome