Can Psychoeducation Really Make A Difference In My Life?

Updated October 6, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Psychiatrists and therapists often talk about psychoeducation, but what does it mean? Put simply, it's the way that mental health professionals teach people about their mental health conditions and disorders. People who receive a diagnosis of any kind want to learn about their condition, and mental disorders are no different.

Could You Benefit From Psychoeducation Treatment As A Support?

Being diagnosed with a mental health condition can be challenging because it can bring up strong emotions. Most people want to know what their diagnosis means and how the mental illness will affect their life. Psychoeducation can answer these questions and many more.

Knowledge is Power

The best part of psychoeducation is the knowledge that you are not alone. Psychoeducation will show you that others have walked this path before you. It will help you understand what people with your condition usually experience and what kind of treatments are most effective. Read on to learn more about this crucial first step in your treatment.

What Is Psychoeducation?

Psychoeducation appeared over 100 years ago, but the term was popularized in 1980 by C.M. Anderson. Today, psychoeducation is a standard part of treatment for nearly every type of mental health disorder and is considered a form of basic psychotherapeutic intervention for patients. What has this term come to mean? Why is it such an important part of treatment? The best way to learn more about it is to start with a simple and concise definition.

Psychoeducation Defined

Psychoeducation provides people with mental health conditions information about the causes, symptoms, prognosis, and treatments of their diagnosed condition. If you engage in psychoeducation programs as a learner, you can find out what to expect, what you can do, and how to improve your condition. Think of psychotherapy as a tool for personal development and even relapse prevention.

Who Facilitates Psychoeducation?

Several different types of mental health professionals can provide psychoeducation. These include:

  • Therapists
  • Psychiatrists
  • Support group leaders
  • Psychoeducation specialists

After receiving psychoeducation from any of these professionals, other people can assist in information with people receiving treatment. They include:

  • Parents
  • Teachers
  • Caregivers
  • Group home workers

Who Can Benefit From Psychoeducation?

Medical literature agrees that anyone who is in treatment for a mental health condition can benefit from learning more about that issue. For example, if you have been diagnosed with depression, psychoeducation will help you learn about your condition and how to cope with it. Although people who have a severe condition may have trouble understanding the information that is being, even they can benefit from limited psychoeducation therapy.

Furthermore, family and loved ones can also benefit from psychoeducation. They can learn to understand signs of mental illness, how to interact and handle situations, and how to be a more loving, understanding, and helpful parent, husband/wife, friend, sibling, etc. to those who struggle with mental health conditions.

Psychoeducation is now considered one avenue of treatment for mental health disorders and mental health problems. This type of education is not solely about passing along some information. It is also about learning skills for living with your condition, so it is a recognized part of the therapeutic process.

Goals Of Psychoeducation

What's the purpose of psychoeducation? And why would you want to bother with it anyway? When your therapist, psychiatrist, or other mental health team engages you in psychoeducation, they typically have the following four goals in mind.

Giving Information

First, it's important to know the name of your diagnosed condition. It can be a big relief to know that others have suffered in similar ways and that treatments are available for countless mental health conditions. No matter what you are going through, you are not alone.

Upon diagnosis, you might not know much about your condition. Even if you've heard of it, the information you received from the media or online may be confusing or unreliable. The first goal of psychoeducation is to teach you and possibly your friends and family what the diagnosis really means and what it means for you specifically.

You'll learn several facts about your condition:

  • Factors that contribute to the cause of the condition
    • Genetic
    • Biological
    • Environmental
  • Symptoms that people with the condition may have
  • Types of treatment
  • What you can expect in the future (the prognosis)

Allowing You To Release Emotions

Another facet of psychoeducation is the opportunity to process feelings about the diagnosis. Because family and the individual with the condition often receive psychoeducation in separate groups, you'll have a chance to express feelings freely in your usual group.

As you release these uncomfortable emotions, you may reveal gaps in your understanding of the condition and its treatment. At this point, psychoeducation can help you understand your condition better by providing relevant facts. As time goes by, you'll be able to come to terms with all aspects of the mental health condition.

Supporting Medication Treatments

People who have never been diagnosed with a mental disorder before are typically unfamiliar with psychiatric medications and how they are an essential part of treatment for a lot of conditions. Even patients who have been taking psychiatric medications or maintenance chemotherapy for a long time need to learn more when they start taking something new.

Could You Benefit From Psychoeducation Treatment As A Support?

In basic psychotherapeutic intervention for patients, you'll learn how and when to take your medication, what to do if you miss a dose, and what side effects you might experience. You might also learn how the medication works, how it will affect your body, and how it will help your mind. Furthermore, you may need to learn about any restrictions you might have when taking the medication. Common restrictions include not driving or operating heavy machinery, staying out of the sun, and avoiding certain foods. Not all medications have such restrictions, but it's important to know about them if they're relevant to you.

Teaching You To Help Yourself

With psychoeducation, you can learn a lot about helping yourself. Knowledge is power! You can learn how to recognize negative symptoms as soon as possible and when to report them. In addition, your mental health practitioner can teach you self-help skills to diminish or alleviate symptoms. They can also teach you about lifestyle changes, and they can give strategies to accomplish those changes that can positively impact your well being. To that end, they might suggest books for you to read about your condition, websites to visit, or support groups to attend. You can also consider looking into peer-reviewed journals like the International Journal of Psychiatry to find out more in-depth controlled study research about your condition and its treatment.

Learning Skills Through Psychoeducation

In addition to factual information, you can learn some very helpful skills through psychoeducation in individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, or support groups. Generally, training is offered in four key areas, which are condition management, problem-solving, communications, and assertiveness. Family can also get involved too, especially when it comes to helping their loved ones with the most severe forms of mental illness. For example, while self-help strategies are available, patients with schizophrenia will still need a lot of support from their family in order to manage their symptoms and help them stay integrated into society.

Condition Management Training

You'll need to learn how to recognize positive and negative symptoms of your mental health problems to manage your condition. As mentioned before, you need to learn what symptoms to report. You also need to know if those symptoms signal an urgent or emergency situation or if they can be mentioned at a routine doctor's appointment.

Problem-Solving Training

When you have support from a mental health professional, it's easy to wait and work with them to solve your problems. However, once you learn techniques for solving problems on your own, you can function better between sessions. You will learn:

  • To identify problems as they arise
  • To consider who is affected by the problem
  • To come up with options for solving the problem
  • To assess the options
  • To choose one of the options and act on it
  • To evaluate your solution afterward to learn more about your condition

Communications Training

By learning to communicate more effectively, you can avoid frustration and unnecessary conflicts, work better with others, and let people know what's important to you. When you do these things, your life will be more manageable, and your needs will be met more consistently. Communications training as a part of psychoeducation aims to teach you a life skill that also improves your condition.

Assertiveness Training

Being assertive is the most effective way to address your needs without causing yourself or others additional problems. Assertiveness is about being clear and straightforward when communicating needs and wants. Passivity, aggressiveness, and passive-aggressiveness are not helpful or effective tactics.

When someone is passive, they don't take part in getting what they need or want. They just accept whatever comes to them, whether it's good or bad. When people are aggressive, they push their agenda on others, whether they like it or not. When someone is passive-aggressive, they manipulate others to get what they want. None of these approaches are healthy ways to get what you want.

In assertiveness training, you will learn how to communicate your needs clearly without being aggressive, passive, or passive-aggressive. You'll learn to be clear and honest without being unfairly demanding.

Types of Psychoeducation

There are several different settings where you might experience psychoeducation. Individual psychoeducation usually happens during therapy sessions. The therapist might explain things personally, or they might give you homework assignments, so you can read books/pamphlets or view videos related to your condition. An example might be a schizophrenia bulletin for families of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia disorder. As mentioned before, family involvement is crucial in the management of symptoms in patients with schizophrenia, and reading medical literature like the schizophrenia bulletin can be of assistance in this process.

When providing professional advice, therapists might also might ask you to talk about how you feel, so you can process your emotions about your condition. At some point, they may use role play or other techniques to give you training and practice in life skills. Some of these techniques are related to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is provided by most mental health services.

Psychoeducation also takes place in condition-specific support groups.

Family psychoeducation and group psychoeducation can be essential for supporting a person with serious mental illness, especially if they have specific conditions like a schizophrenic disorder. Admittance into a psychiatric hospital can seem overwhelming to anyone not familiar with the milieu, so again, family involvement is essential.

Finally, families of people who have mental conditions may be asked to gather for psychoeducation sessions, including for family intervention. They'll learn what the condition is and what it means for their loved one, how to help the person with the condition, and how to take care of their own needs at the same time. It can also be helpful to include caregivers if they're not part of the family.

Psychoeducation As A Mental Health Treatment

Psychoeducation has no negative aspects when used in treating various mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

You may have heard about people with psychotic disorders or seen stories about their lives. Maybe someone in your family has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which is typically the most well-known and the central focus in these types of conditions.

The American Psychological Association defines schizophrenia as “a serious mental illness characterized by incoherent or illogical thoughts, bizarre behavior and speech, and delusions or hallucinations, such as hearing voices.” Because of the cognitive changes patients experience, many medical professionals recommend cognitive therapy and behavior therapy in addition to family psychoeducation. Social skills training can also be an important component in the treatment of schizophrenia since it can help keep them continue working and stay engaged with their communities.

Likewise, patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder may be recommended for psychoeducation and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to assist them in developing coping strategies and increasing their communication skills effectiveness, which can also promote self efficacy and improve their well being.

How To Get The Most Benefit From Psychoeducation

Psychotherapeutic interventions can move everyone involved toward a healing process.  More and more, teachers of every kind are beginning to see education as a team effort. When you approach psychoeducation the same way, you'll become an active part of a process, including aftercare treatment, that has the power to improve your life dramatically.

When you participate in psychoeducation actively and honestly, you'll get the most out of it. Whether you meet with an in-person or online counselor, be open to learning new information and practicing new skills. Also ask questions when you don't understand something, and consider how general information applies to you specifically. Overall, it's a simple process, but it works better when you're engaged.

If you want to learn more about your mental health condition, you can talk to a counselor right now. There are licensed therapists online at BetterHelp.com who can help you work through this process at a time and place most convenient for you. When a mental health condition complicates your life, psychoeducation gives you the tools to understand it better. Then you'll be able to manage it, so you can keep enjoying your life.

Below, you'll find a few reviews of BetterHelp counselors who have worked with people experiencing a range of life's challenges.

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