Application of the IPT in a Spanish Sample: Evaluation of the "Social Perception Subprogramme"

By Sonia García; Fuentes, Inmaculada et al. | International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, December 2003 | Go to article overview

Application of the IPT in a Spanish Sample: Evaluation of the "Social Perception Subprogramme"


Sonia García, Fuentes, Inmaculada, Juan Carlos Ruíz, Gallach, Elisa, Roder, Volker, International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy


People do not react to reality just as it is, but as they build or interpret it (Ibáñez, 1979). Only an adequate interpretation of the environment, physical and social, permits our adaptation to it. For that reason, reality interpretation and the processes involved in it should be important aspects to consider in the rehabilitation of mental patients. Bedell & Lenox (1994) have studied the relation in the way we perceive reality and how we behave in society. These authors think that the ability to perceive is an important factor for a good social functioning. They consider that social abilities would include two groups of skills: cognitive and behavioural. Social perception and information processing are included in the cognitive skills group. Both of them define, organize and guide social skills. On the other hand, behavioural skills refer to verbal and nonverbal behaviour used in applying the action of a decision once cognitive processes have finished.

In the late eighties, as a result of the investigations that related cognitive deficit and social skills, it was concluded that schizophrenic patients had a deficit in social perception. This was particularly true in the recognition of affects, which makes them answer inadequately to other people (Halford & Hayes, 1991). Other deficit identified besides facial affect recognition (Morrison, Bellack & Mueser, 1988; Bellack, Blanchard & Mueser, 1996), and nonverbal perception (Toomey, Wallace, Corrigan, Schulderg & Green, 1997), has been inapropiate situational stimulus perception (Corrigan & Green, 1993).

In relation with facial affect recognition, Bellack (1992) thinks that schizophrenics shown a marked deterioration, especially in the ability to identify negative affects shown by others. Leff & Abberton (1981) related these deficits in schizophrenic patients with emotional flattening. It is known that different aspects of social perception such as facial affect recognition, perception of dynamic social stimuli and self-perception are related to social functioning in schizophrenia (Frith, 1995; Penn, Combs & Mohamed, 2001). Although literature shows the referred results, mediator processes among neurochemical dysfunction and behavioural symptoms have not been studied in intervention programmes. Roder, Brenner, Hodel & Kienzle (1996) indicate that among the mediator processes, attention and perception processes are especially affected, as well as those of recognition, integration and transformation of internal and external stimuli.

In fact, it is considered that the interventions focused in the social perception skills should serve to improve generalization of treatment and its maintenance (Penn et al, 2001).

Roder et al. (1996) have developed an integrated therapy for schizophrenic patients (IPT) (Integriertes psychologisches Therapieprogramm fur schizophrene Patienteri) with the purpose of working as much on cognitive functioning as on social functioning in schizophrenic patients. It is a group intervention programme with five subprogrammes: Cognitive Differentiation, Social Perception, Verbal Communication, Social Skills Training and Interpersonal Problem Solving. They are hierarchically ordered so the first interventions are directed to basic cognitive skills, the next interventions transform the cognitive skills into social and verbal behaviours, and the last ones train the patients in the solution of more complex interpersonal problems. Nowadays IPT is considered a good procedure, with sufficient empirical support for schizophrenia treatment (Pérez & Fernández, 2001; Vallina & Lemos, 2001)

In this investigation we have trained social perception skills in a schizophrenic group of patients through the application of the second IPT programme. Some authors (Vallina et ai, 2001) consider it to be a basic programme because it contains the essence of all the cognitive interventions which included IPT (reception of information, its analysis and the emission of responses made after previous information has been received and analyzed). …

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