UCLA Thought Disorders Intensive Outpatient Program

What are thought disorders?

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, thought disorders affect approximately 1% of the U.S. adult population. People with thought disorders, such as brief psychotic disorder or schizophrenia, may experience the world in unusual ways. Symptoms that are characteristic of thought disorders are often described as positive, negative, and cognitive:

  • Positive symptoms: these include changes in the way people perceive the world, such as seeing or hearing things that other people cannot see or hear; having concerns for one’s safety; or having difficulty organizing one’s thoughts or speaking logically.
  • Negative symptoms: these include feeling less motivation to interact with others or engage in school or work; feeling less pleasure during daily activities; and speaking less than usual.
  • Cognitive symptoms: these include difficulty processing information or carrying out complex tasks; and difficulty with focus or attention.

These symptoms often interfere with a person’s ability to engage in meaningful activities, such as working or going to school. They can also impair relationships with friends and family or make it difficult to find a partner.

How are thought disorders treated?

Thought disorders have traditionally been treated with antipsychotic medications. These medications are generally taken every day over long periods of time. They can help alleviate some of the symptoms of thought disorders. However, many people find that their symptoms don’t go away entirely, though their symptoms may decrease in intensity and frequency and become less troublesome overall.

Recently, a growing body of evidence has shown that thought disorders can also be treated with talk therapy. In particular, a type of therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which helps people recognize and change maladaptive patterns in their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, can help people with thought disorders improve their functioning and manage their symptoms.

UCLA Adult Thought Disorder Program

The goal of the thought disorders intensive outpatient program at UCLA is to provide high-quality, evidenced-based treatment to individuals with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and other psychotic disorders. The program uses a form of group-based CBT called Cognitive Behavioral Social Skills Training (CBSST) to help participants challenge distorted thinking; better understand the link between thoughts, behaviors, and emotions; improve the quality of peer and family relationships; and work on problem-solving techniques to accomplish goals.

Rather than focusing on symptom eradication, the program helps participants improve everyday functioning and work towards fulfilling their own potential. The program also offers group therapy focused on sleep hygiene, self-esteem building, time management, and mindfulness, among others. All participants meet weekly with a primary therapist to provide case management services as well as brief individual or family therapy needed. Participants also meet weekly with a psychiatrist for medication management.

The thought disorders intensive outpatient program takes place on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10am-2pm. Each day includes three groups as well as a one-hour break for lunch, for which participants are given a voucher to be used in the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center cafeteria. The length of the program is approximately six weeks though is tailored to each individual.  


Participants must meet the following criteria:

  • Adults ages 18+
  • Ability to attend program at UCLA (300 Medical Plaza Driveway, Los Angeles, CA 90024) on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10am-2pm
  • Motivated for group treatment
  • Absence of substance use disorder that would interfere with treatment
  • Stable housing
  • Established outpatient psychiatrist

We accept most commercial insurance as well as Medicare. All insurance will be verified prior to admission. 

How to Refer

If you are interested in participating in our program, please have your psychiatrist or therapist fill out the online referral form. For any additional information, you may call Dr. Alaina Burns at (310) 206-6246 or our main office at (310) 825-7469.

Online referral form: https://uclahs.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0MNyQFwPNm6a8Jw



If you are interested in making a gift to support Thought Disorders Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), please contact Amy Drizhal, Senior Director of Development, at [email protected] or 310-773-7436.