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How to Communicate More Easily with Someone in Psychosis

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How to Communicate More Easily with Someone in Psychosis

Do you have someone in your life who experiences psychosis? If so, you might have discovered that communication can become very difficult. There are ways to communicate with someone having a psychotic episode that will reduce stress—both yours and the person you need to talk to.

Psychosis, which is a separation from reality involving hallucinations (sensing something that isn’t there)  and/or delusions (firmly believing something that isn’t real), can be frightening, intimidating, confusing and overwhelming for everyone involved. Trying to talk to someone experiencing delusions or hallucinations can be challenging because you’re both living in different worlds. Try these tips to improve communication when talking to someone in psychosis:

  • Keep your statements short, simple, and clear
  • Use a calm voice and steady tone
  • Give the person physical space rather than crowding them
  • Acknowledge what they’re experiencing and how they might be feeling
  • Don’t argue with or challenge the delusions or hallucinations
  • But don’t pretend to believe them yourself
  • Be neutral but not placating—give matter-of-fact statements acknowledging that their experience is real to them
  • Ask them to help you understand what they’re experiencing

Communicating with someone in psychosis this way helps them feel heard and supported while not overwhelming, arguing, or leading them to believe that their imagined reality is accurate. Your conversations can become less frustrating.

Related Articles Dealing with Communication and Psychosis

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Today's Question: If you’ve had conversations with someone in a psychotic episode, what made the conversation successful (or unsuccessful)? We invite you to participate by sharing your thoughts, knowledge, and experiences on the HealthyPlace Facebook page.

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APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, April 16). How to Communicate More Easily with Someone in Psychosis, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-health-newsletter/how-to-communicate-more-easily-with-someone-in-psychosis

Last Updated: April 16, 2019
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Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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