Learning CBT for Psychosis: A Series of Live Online Seminars

The core idea of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is that therapists can help people learn to change what they think and do, and then by making these changes, psychological problems can shrink or be eliminated.

Over 50 randomized studies of CBT for psychosis (CBTp) have now been completed, and they show that people experiencing psychosis can learn to reduce distress and disability using these methods. And those who have made complete recoveries after being diagnosed with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia often credit learning to change thoughts and behaviors in the same ways that are promoted by CBTp.

One problem though has been that training in CBTp has often been difficult to obtain, at least in the US. To help remedy that, I’ve put together a series of five live online seminars, which are designed to first provide an overview of CBTp, and then to provide a detailed understanding of how it approaches the various problem areas associated with psychosis.

Each seminar will be 4 hours long, and will provide time for questions, discussion, and practice. Continuing education credits will be available for most US professionals (go to this link and click on the “CE Information” tab for details.)

Each seminar will be recorded, and those who register will have access to the recording for a period of 4 weeks. CE credit however will only be available to those who attend the seminar live, for the entire seminar.


Each workshop will be from 8:30am-12:30pm Pacific Time / 11:300-3:30pm Eastern Time

Date: 6/10/22 Paranoia and Troublesome Beliefs: A CBT Approach

Date: 7/8/22 Voices, Visions, and Other Altered Perceptions: Changing Outcomes with CBT

Date: 8/12/22 Trauma, Dissociation, and Psychosis: CBT and Other Approaches to Understanding and Recovery

Date: 9/23/22 Addressing Spiritual and Cultural Issues Within Treatment for Psychosis

(See further below for a detailed description of each seminar.)

About the instructor: (Ron Unger LCSW): “I’m a therapist who has been practicing CBTp for almost two decades, and during that time I have led many seminars on CBTp at a variety of universities and agencies in the US and Canada. These seminars present CBTp as part of a deeply humanistic and open-minded approach to difficult experiences that can otherwise be too easily framed as “not understandable.” I am the author of 3 prerecorded “online courses” related to CBT for psychosis (these courses cover some of the same material that will be covered in these live seminars.) I am chair of the educational committee for the US Chapter of the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS-US) and am a blogger at and”

Cost: Each seminar is $89.99 until 3 weeks before that seminar, and then $109.99.

  • Register for these seminars individually using the links for each seminar.
  • When registering for individual seminars, there is also a 15% discount for those registering in groups of 3 or more.

Description of each seminar:

Paranoia and Troublesome Beliefs: A CBT Approach

In an increasingly polarized world, more are noticing how difficult it can be to talk to someone whose beliefs are quite different from our own. It can be even more difficult when trust is broken, and paranoia is strong.

In this seminar, the focus will be on establishing helpful conversations with people whose paranoia and extremely different beliefs have led to a diagnosis of psychosis. Rather than a “one size fits all” approach, the emphasis will be on finding a method that works for an individual as that person exists in the current moment. While “reviewing the evidence” and helping the person challenge the belief may sometimes be effective, at other times it may work better to simply accept the belief and to find ways to live successfully while holding it. And at other times, the best approach might be understanding the belief as an indicator of underlying conflicts or vulnerabilities that need to be addressed before the belief can change.

Learning Objectives:

· Describe the possible functions of paranoia in the formation of troublesome beliefs or delusions

· Identify 4 different but complementary approaches to reducing disturbances due to troublesome beliefs

· Demonstrate how to collaboratively explore evidence for and against an apparently delusional belief

Voices, Visions, and Other Altered Perceptions: Changing Outcomes with CBT

We depend on our senses for accurate information about the world, but for many people, a significant portion of what they experience as sensory information has no apparent basis in our shared world. One might suspect this would always lead to trouble, yet, research in the last quarter century shows that only some of the people who hear voices and see visions have significant problems from these experiences; others seem to get on with their lives successfully.

What makes the difference? One huge factor is how people interpret and relate to these experiences. This training will explore CBT methods of shifting from often unproductive or even counterproductive attempts to eliminate “hallucinations,” to constructive ways of coping. With this change in relationship, experiences like voices may fade, become less troublesome, or even shift into something the person experiences as an overall positive in their lives.

A special area of focus will be the problem of compliance with command voices. Patterns of compliance with command voices dramatically increase the risk of self harm and other destructive behavior; we will review and practice CBT approaches which have been shown to be effective in significantly reducing such compliance.

Learning Objectives:

· Use an acceptance and commitment therapy approach to help people change relationships with voices, visions, and other “hallucinations.”

· Identify relationships between problems with voices and with difficult emotions, allowing attention to shift to facing core issues and schemas

· Utilize a proven CBT strategy to help people reduce even partial or imagined compliance with command voices

Trauma, Dissociation, and Psychosis: CBT and Other Approaches to Understanding and Recovery

A large number of studies now provide strong evidence that psychosis is often an understandable reaction to trauma, abuse, and other difficult life experiences. This training will introduce you to a science based yet humanistic conceptualization of extreme human experiences that can be related to trauma, and will demonstrate how to help people change their relationship with these experiences, for example, by collaborating with them in building coherent and compassionate self narratives that can set the stage for a strong recovery.

Dissociation can be a normal response to traumatic stress and can, in its more extreme forms and when misinterpreted, easily lead to psychosis. Drawing on this understanding, the possibility of addressing dissociation and misinterpretations of dissociation using methods drawn from diverse sources such as CBT, the Hearing Voices Movement, mindfulness, and psychodynamic approaches will be presented. These approaches can help people to regain perspective and personal power and create an opportunity to resolve internal conflicts rather than remaining stuck in endless efforts to suppress whatever is disturbing them.

Learning Objectives:

· Identify possible interrelationships between trauma, dissociation, and psychosis, including ways that psychosis itself, and reactions to psychosis by others, can be traumatizing

· Describe a possible causal route from trauma to psychotic experiences, and describe the role of dissociation within that process

· Plan to integrate CBT for psychosis with various trauma therapies to effectively treat clients who have experienced both trauma and psychosis

· Demonstrate a collaborate approach to helping clients develop coherent and compassionate stories of trauma and recovery which provide an alternative to both fragmented “psychotic” stories, and to helplessness-inducing “mental illness” stories.

Addressing Spiritual and Cultural Issues Within Treatment for Psychosis

There is not just one way of making sense of reality; instead, each culture or even each subculture goes about it differently. Further, many or even most people affirm beliefs in various “spiritual” aspects of reality that transcend everyday experiences. But this leads to the question: how are we to distinguish healthy diversity in culture and spirituality, from that which is pathological or “psychotic?”

One approach to this question is to assert that if a way of making sense is common in a culture, then it is sane and acceptable, while if it is unique, then it is pathological. While this approach makes room for diversity that is well established in large social groups, it continues to risk pathologizing possibly healthy innovations made by individuals.

This training will explore how CBT for psychosis can be practiced in a flexible way to adopt to cultural and spiritual differences, allowing for collaborative and respectful explorations of both the possible value as well as dangers of various ways of approaching reality. Based on such explorations, people can discover their own paths to a healthy integration and a path forward in their lives.

Learning Objectives:

  • Demonstrate the ability to adopt CBT for psychosis approaches to meet the needs of individuals from varying cultural groups
  • Explain the role of cultural humility, and an awareness of the uncertainty of one’s own knowledge, in respectful and effective therapy for psychosis
  • Utilize cultural competence in addressing spiritual issues within a recovery oriented approach to psychosis while working with individuals from a variety of traditions and subcultures

Use these links to register for individual seminars:

Date: 6/10/22 Paranoia and Troublesome Beliefs: A CBT Approach

Date: 7/8/22 Voices, Visions, and Other Altered Perceptions: Changing Outcomes with CBT

Date: 8/12/22 Trauma, Dissociation, and Psychosis: CBT and Other Approaches to Understanding and Recovery

Date: 9/23/22 Addressing Spiritual and Cultural Issues Within Treatment for Psychosis