Psychoeducation isn’t always well understood by the public or by those who seek out group therapy. Yet, its premise is very simple and very valuable.
Psychoeducational groups work to educate those who are seeking mental health disorder or addiction treatment on how to live with these conditions. It’s not a new concept, having been in use for over 100 years, but it hasn’t always been accepted as a viable option. It’s also changed significantly over the years. During the mid-1980s, it was designed to bring families together in a type of intervention-style meeting.
Patients and their family members were given information on the illness and instructed to develop a deep understanding of that illness and the therapies used to treat it. The goal was to create a long-term commitment from everyone involved in the treatment of the condition.
Today, it’s evolved into an independent therapeutic program where the focus is on communication improvement between the patient and the family. Now, the goal is to help the family understand and accept the illness and, in doing so, offer a supportive network to the individual.
What Are Psychoeducational Groups?
Psychoeducational groups are informative sessions that bring family and patient together to learn about substance abuse or mental health disorders and their consequences. These are structured group sessions in which the focus is on learning.
They are also designed to focus specifically on the patient’s life. A key aspect of these group sessions is that they don’t work to change the situation but rather inform everyone about what’s happening, why it is happening and what they can do about it.
Because this type of group session provides such in-depth information, it is considered an essential component of most therapy programs. When a person and their family have this deep level of understanding of what’s happening, they are better able to cope with the difficulties that arise during the treatment process.
The patient is also able to feel more in control over their condition and their family’s role in recovery. In some cases, this can improve mental capacity, giving them a better opportunity to manage the process.
What Are the Benefits of the Psychoeducational Model?
In psychoeducation therapy, people gather to learn. It’s commonly accepted that people facing addiction or mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety and more extensive conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder don’t know much about their condition. They don’t know what therapy can offer or how this can improve their quality of life.
From the family’s standpoint, this type of group setting can improve knowledge of the condition and facilitate a better understanding of what they can do to help. They learn how to support their loved one.
At the same time, they learn how to support their own emotional health and well-being as their loved one struggles. In most cases, this type of educational program creates an improvement in their quality of life.
Psychoeducation isn’t a cure. It doesn’t even attempt to provide therapy. Yet, it gives much-needed information and insight for those entering the treatment phase.
What Happens in Psychoeducational Therapy Sessions?
A variety of formats may occur. Most of the time, this type of educational model facilitates a group of people coming together to learn. The size of the group can vary from one-on-one to very large.
There are four key goals of any psychoeducational session. They include:
- Transfer information from those professionals in attendance to the patient and family
- Provide medication and treatment support and education
- Offer training specifically aimed at self-help and self-care for those in need
- Create a place for family to share emotional frustrations and concerns without any negative impact
Though each session is unique, there are a few key things that commonly occur. Most often, a therapist explains the mental health or addiction condition is in a one-on-one or group setting.
The therapist describes the impact it has on a person’s functioning and overall well-being. They discuss the treatment taking place, such as the type of medication being used and how it works.
Psychoeducation may also include formal classroom-style environments in which a larger group of people come together to learn. This is an important community-type of event because it helps residents understand the growing number of addictions, overdoses or mental health issues.
Information shared in these sessions isn’t meant to be personal. That is, it isn’t a treatment for that person, but rather a way to educate on a broader scale.
When Can Psychoeducation Be Useful?
There’s a large range of educational programs available, each customized to a specific mental health condition or addiction. Some areas in which this model may be specifically helpful include:
- Eating disorders
- Alcohol addiction
- Drug addiction
- Clinical depression
- Anxiety disorders
Psychoeducation Compared to Process-Oriented Treatment
Another form of group therapy, process-oriented psychology, sometimes called process work, is a type of holistic treatment. It works to help individuals develop personal awareness and identify repressed emotions.
Here, the goal is to help patients understand their personal experiences and personal reasons for suffering better. It can help to encourage a realization of why something happens and can aid in promoting leadership skills. It can also address some social conflicts.
Unlike psychoeducation, process-oriented therapy is a treatment aimed at improving a person’s well-being and their understanding of their condition. It works to create improvement. Psychoeducation is information communicated at a high level that helps with understanding what’s happening and why.
The two models differ in the type of information obtained and the reasoning for it. Both can help people with an addiction or mental health disorder to learn to live with it, while psychoeducation also includes family-oriented education.
In some situations, both methods can be helpful. Therapists work to understand the needs of the person and then recommend proper treatment.
Finding Treatment for Your Needs at FHE Health
For people experiencing incredible change during addiction and mental health disorder treatment, psychoeducation groups may be helpful. FHE Health can work with you to help you get the best care for your individual needs.