Learning/Unlearning: Resilience & Personalization

Since the brain is still developing, during the experience of psychosis, the majority of the individuals miss out on the kind of learning experiences that will help them to adapt. On the other hand, the learning that does take place often involves the ideas that the individual is abnormal, inferior, devalued, and undesirable. The therapy has to do with the learning of the individual’s potentials and unlearning of the negative attitudes (see below before we get to resilience).

Resilience: During the recovery program, the individual exposed to a variety of stressors, such as disappointment, frustration, control, and criticism. We have found that if the individual learns to process each of these stressors, they gradually learn to master them so that they do not overreact in the future. Some of the overreaction to stress involves typical cognitive biases, such as making extreme interpretations, catastrophizing, overgeneralizing, personalizing, and a selective focus on the negative. The process of reframing these experiences leads to greater flexibility and, consequently, more successful adaptation to the vicissitudes of life.

Personalization: Just keeping the individual busy is not sufficient to move them along the path to recovery. Many programs involve art, music, dancing, outings, etc., and it is apparent that the individuals are active (which is good), but they do not progress. Ideally, we identify the “sweet spot” and follow a sequence from there, for example, we discovered that a woman was interested in cooking. She made contact with the cook on the unit; she followed a sequence of making a cupcake for herself, then brownies for the group, and then started a cooking class. Similarly, the man who believed he was pregnant was found to get gratification from taking care of animals and progressed, eventually, to visit, and then becoming employed at an animal shelter. The idea is to provide attractive opportunities to accelerate the trajectory to recovery.