People living with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders often develop profound and disabling cognitive deficits. Even more than positive or negative symptoms, cognitive deficits can impair daily functioning and are a major factor in chronic disability and unemployment. (Hurford, 2011)
However, in recent years, a variety of evidence-based cognitive remediation programs have been developed to help people who have lost cognitive abilities because of psychiatric illnesses. While widely implemented in other countries, Canada is just beginning to recognize the extent of the problems related to cognitive losses and the kinds of resources that we could make available to people.
Cognitive remediation programs are not replacements for the medications that people with psychotic disorders usually need. Instead, cognitive remediation programs serve as an additional treatment to be used along with medication. Medications impact psychotic symptoms while cognitive remediation programs focuses on the cognitive losses that are frequently a part of these illnesses.
In the fall of 2017, B.C. Schizophrenia Society along with the B.C. Psychosis Program, B.C. Psychosocial Rehabilitation Advanced Practice, B.C. Early Psychosis Intervention program (EPI), UBC Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and Vancouver Coastal Health Family Support and Involvement Team held a one day conference featuring Dr. Alice Medalia (Director, Psychiatric Rehabilitation | Columbia University) and Dr. Chris Bowie (Director, Cognitive & Psychotic Disorders Lab | Queen’s University) in Vancouver to begin discussions on how to introduce cognitive remediation programs in B.C. so that they can be used in treatment plans where people using medication.
This write-up by Dr. Randall White and Susan Inman about Bringing Cognitive Remediation to British Columbia provides a succinct summary of the panels and discussions from the day.
Recordings of the panels and presentations from Bringing Cognitive Remediation to British Columbia: A One-Day Conference: