Intended for healthcare professionals
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CPD modules

Supporting patients who are experiencing hallucinations

Author: Bob Price

Duration: 2 hours Last updated: 2019 Quality Assurance: Peer-reviewed Level: Qualified nurses, Students Language: English

Course description

The aim of this module is to help you to review what hallucinations are, identify the common conditions or circumstances in which they might occur, and recommend precepts regarding how best to respond to patients who report hallucinations. No assumptions are made that the reader has previous mental healthcare training. Reference is made to schizophrenia (psychosis), one diagnosis that is commonly associated with hallucinations, and one possible explanation of how hallucinations develop in schizophrenia is outlined. It should be noted, however, that explanations of psychoses are often contested, and best treatments for the condition are debated. Antipsychotic medications, transcranial magnetic stimulation and talking therapies have all been used in an effort to help patients manage schizophrenia (Lieberman et al 2013, Subramanian et al 2013, Hayward et al 2015).

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Learning aims and intended outcomes

  • Clarify the differences between hallucinations and delusions
  • List the common conditions that can cause hallucinations
  • Describe the stages that an individual might go through as they learn to cope with their hallucinations (for convenience, the module refers to patients, but it is not assumed that all individuals reporting hallucinations are necessarily ill)
  • Outline one explanatory model of why hallucinations might occur in schizophrenia
  • Outline initiatives designed to help people interpret and cope with hallucinations at a personal level
  • State four precepts for working with a patient who reports hallucinations for the first time


  • Introduction
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Origins of hallucinations
  • Psychoses
  • Finding ways to help patients
  • Four first-encounter precepts
  • Conclusions


Bob Price
Healthcare education and practice development consultant, Surrey, England.


Please note that information provided by RCNi Learning is not sufficient to ensure competence in the skill. Assessment of competence should take place in line with local practice. Practice should always align with local protocols and procedures, latest guidelines and any regulatory code. All modules should currently be viewed together with available national and local Covid-19 guidelines. For advice, go to


  • Introduction
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Origins of hallucinations
  • Psychoses
  • Finding ways to help patients
  • Four first-encounter precepts
  • Conclusions

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