Background and Objectives:
As many as 30% of individuals with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder experience obsessive-compulsive symptoms (OCS). Clozapine has demonstrated superior efficacy for the treatment of medication-resistant schizophrenia but it is also associated with an increased risk for OCS. Because pharmacologic management of clozapine-related OCS can be particularly challenging, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) should be considered. Nevertheless, there are few detailed accounts of CBT for OCS and schizophrenia.
The authors describe the interdisciplinary outpatient care of a client who had a 25-year history of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, and OCS. The case formulation was used to guide interventions to target core schemas of being dangerous and defective. The case study describes the cognitive behavioral formulation, treatment targets, treatment course, and functional and symptom response.
The client received 21 sessions of a formulation-based CBT for psychosis protocol, which included a 6-session course of exposure with response prevention, consisting of imaginal and in vivo exposure to multiple salient harm stimuli. Reduced ratings of distress and a 50% reduction in OCS suggest that habituation and inhibitory learning occurred. The treatment of OCS resulted in the complete resolution of thought broadcasting. Subsequently, the client was more successful in his efforts to adhere to an action schedule.
The use of both the treatment approach described in this clinical case report and contemporaneous medication management preclude comment on the mechanism(s) of the therapeutic change observed in this case.
This report presents a means of conceptualizing the interplay between thought broadcasting and harm obsessions and discusses considerations in identifying and treating individuals with similar comorbid conditions, particularly in the context of clozapine treatment for medication-resistant psychosis.