Helpful Communication Tips
How to talk to an individual with schizophrenia
To get along well with a person living with schizophrenia, it’s important to act naturally and treat him or her with respect. As a general rule for effective communication, speak kindly, clearly and simply.
3 tips you can try when speaking to someone living with schizophrenia:
- Listen actively. It’s just as important to understand as it is to be understood. Active listening means paying close attention to what a person is saying and repeating back to them what you’ve heard to confirm your understanding. By doing this, you show the person that you are really listening, make sure there are no misunderstandings, and demonstrate your respect.
- Acknowledge the patient’s experience. As a caregiver, it’s important that you show you are sensitive to what your loved one is feeling. Seeing things from his or her perspective will help you better understand and communicate. Denying or dismissing what the person is going through is destructive. Remember that at times, a patient may believe things that are not real to you, but seem very real to him or her. Acknowledge that these beliefs are real, without supporting the actual delusions.
- Uncover what motivates them. Many times an individual with schizophrenia may say or do something that doesn’t make sense to you. If this happens, ask thoughtful questions to uncover his or her motive. You may be able to leverage the motive to encourage a desired behavior.
Other tips that may help:
- Maintain a low-stress environment
- Have one person speak at a time and keep voices down
- Use language that is positive and supportive instead of critical
- Be encouraging and understanding
- Keep conversations short and simple
- Do not argue, even if your loved one argues
- Use “I feel” statements rather than “I think” statements