Improving vocational outcomes in first-episode psychosis by addressing cognitive impairments using Cognitive Adaptation Training

Kelly A. Allott, Eoin Killackey, Pamela Sun, Warrick J. Brewer, Dawn I. Velligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Cognitive Adaptation Training (CAT) uses compensatory strategies and environmental supports to support cognitive impairments and improve functioning. CAT may be useful for addressing vocational recovery in first-episode psychosis (FEP) because cognitive impairments are common and vocational recovery is a key goal of young people with FEP. OBJECTIVE: To describe clinical observations and practice experience when delivering CAT with FEP clients and explore potential benefits via objective outcome measures for improving vocational outcomes. METHODS: In this pilot study, five FEP participants received 9 months of CAT. Participant goals and functional needs and clinical observations were recorded. Formal measures of functioning, quality of life and motivation were independently administered pre- and post-intervention. RESULTS: Vocational recovery (education, employment) was found to be a primary functional goal of FEP participants. Accordingly, CAT had a strong focus on vocational functioning, including functional domains required for successful work or educational outcomes, such as organization and planning, transportation and activities of daily living. Factors of clinical importance when delivering CAT with the FEP participants included cognitive heterogeneity, family involvement, flexibility in compensatory and environmental supports used, and experience of stigma. Improvements from baseline to post-intervention were observed on most measures, with the largest improvements seen in global functioning (including vocation), planning and organization, and quality of life. CONCLUSIONS: CAT is an intervention that appears well suited to addressing vocational functioning in FEP, but larger controlled trials are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-589
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


  • Cognition
  • compensatory strategies
  • environmental supports
  • schizophrenia
  • supported employment
  • vocational recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Rehabilitation


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