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Unit for Social and Community Psychiatry

NESS: body psychotherapy


The negative symptoms of schizophrenia include social withdrawal, reduced emotional expression and a lack of initiative. These symptoms typically do not improve as a result of treatment, and are a major problem as they have been found to severely impact how the individual is able to function in society. There is some limited evidence that that arts therapies may be an effective treatment for these symptoms, however more evidence is required.

Arts therapies is a term which covers a number of creative therapies which have a strong non-verbal component, such as art therapy, music therapy, dance movement psychotherapy, body psychotherapy and drama therapy. In this trial, we tested the effectiveness of group body psychotherapy as a treatment for negative symptoms, comparing the intervention to a Pilates class.

Research questions

  • Is group body psychotherapy intervention more effective in treating negative symptoms of schizophrenia in comparison to Pilates?
  • Is group body psychotherapy more effective in improving other symptoms, quality of life, social functioning, treatment satisfaction and the objective social situation of the participant in comparison to Pilates?
  • Do any of the effects of body psychotherapy maintain six months later?
  • Is body psychotherapy a cost-effective intervention?

Research activities

  • 275 outpatients with schizophrenia were randomised to 20 sessions of 90-minute body psychotherapy, or 20 Pilates classes of the same duration.
  • Participants were assessed before the treatment started, at end of treatment, and then at six months after treatment.


  • Body psychotherapy was not found to produce a clinically relevant beneficial effect in the treatment of patients with negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

Useful links


  • Prof. Stefan Priebe
  • Mark Savill
  • Stavros Orfanos


National Institute for Health Research, Health Technology Assessment

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