Talking therapy offers new hope to patients
20 July 2016

Staff at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) are offering new hope to people with mental health conditions whose medication results in them developing obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

The clinical psychologists believe the therapy course they have designed is a major breakthrough in helping patients understand and manage their OCD.

The clinicians work with those with severe schizophrenia, which can cause hallucinations, hearing voices, and delusions. A long-term condition, it can often be effectively treated with the drug clozapine. However, the side-effects of the drug can be that some patients develop OCD, leading them to suffer repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges, such as obsessively checking doors, keys and taps. But now six clozapine patients from Cambridge have taken part in the talking-therapy course in Cambridge. The initial findings of the six week course have been positive, with five of the patients saying their OCD symptoms  were reduced.

The course is thought to be a first for such a group and further research work is now planned.

Dr James Plaistow, a clinical psychologist with the Cambridge adult locality team at CPFT, who developed the programme with trainee clinical psychologist, Dr Emma Hill, said:  “Obsessive compulsive symptoms caused by anti-psychotic drugs are very common, but remain under-recognised and treated.

“Psychosis often leads to long standing problems like poor concentration, memory and attention and although clozapine can be an effective treatment, it and other antipsychotic medications can result in a number of side effects, including compulsive checking. A first step may be to reduce or change medication, but this is a difficult choice for those who find that the medication helps them managing their psychosis.

“Emma and I looked into what research had been carried out in this area and found very little, so we looked at how the Trust could support these patients. CBT is a proven talking therapy that can help people manage their problems by changing the way they think and behave. We put together a six session course  to help them understand the impact of their checking behaviours and how to improve the way they cope with them.

“Those taking part have found the course useful not only because it helped them to recognise and deal with some of their beliefs and behaviour related to checking, but because it gave them the opportunity to talk to others who are experiencing the same issues.”

Dr Plaistow said that more research is needed to prove the effectiveness of the course and the potential long term benefits, and plans are in place to offer the therapy to more patients in the future.

The clozapine clinics run by CPFT monitor and assess people with schizophrenia who are taking the medication to treat their condition. Clozapine has been shown to be successful in the treatment of psychosis in some patients, but all those taking it require regular monitoring. The medical teams at the clinics are involved in research locally and with other centres across the UK.


Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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