Auditory hallucinations in patients with psychotic disorders may be very distressing. Unfortunately, a large proportion of individuals are resistant to pharmacological interventions and the gold-standard cognitive-behavioral therapy for psychosis offers at best modest effects. To improve therapeutic outcomes, several therapies have been created to establish a relationship between voice-hearers and their voices. With increasing literature, we conducted a systematic review of dialogical therapies and examined the evidence behind their efficacy.
A systematic search was performed in PubMed, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. Articles were included if they discussed the effects of dialogical interventions for patients with psychotic disorders.
A total of 17 studies were included within this systematic review. Cumulative evidence from various therapies has shown that entering in a dialog with voices is beneficial to patients, even those who are resistant to current pharmacological treatments. Heightened benefits have been mainly observed with Relating Therapy and Avatar Therapy/Virtual Reality assisted Therapy, with evidence generally of moderate quality. Both these interventions have shown large to very large effects on voices and voice-related distress as well as moderate to large magnitude improvements on affective symptoms. Though, cognitive-behavioral therapy for command hallucinations and making sense of voices noted no improvements on voices.
Literature on relational-based interventions with a strong emphasis on the relational aspects of voice hearing has shown positive effects. Results suggest that these dialogical therapies might surpass the efficacy of current gold-standard approaches.