What is psychoeducation and what is it for (a guide)

Why is it good to learn in advance about how we can live harmoniously as a couple? Why is it good to read a lot about children’s education?

Simple: to raise our children properly and well, right? But how many people do that?

Well, it’s time to talk about what’s missing in our education about life, which is psychoeducation.

What is psychoeducation?

Let’s say we’re going through a marital crisis? What do we have to do next? Divorce?

Should we try again? What else can we try? What are the limits that have been violated and should not have been violated?

These are things we should have learned in school. If we did, maybe there would be fewer divorces and fewer children growing up in disharmonious families.

Psychoeducation became something necessary, such as mathematics or grammar. Or maybe even more.

Without grammar, you can live, but if you do not know how to communicate assertively, for example, you can become the victim of a social group, whether it is those at work or family.

Psychoeducation – a definition

Psychoeducation combines psychotherapy with education to help people understand and learn how to manage certain problems they face.

It can be used in a wide variety of situations, from those related to emotional and mental health –  to situations related to professional aspects.

Psychoeducation focuses on informing people, helping them to increase their level of awareness, to improve their communication and relational skills related to the target problem, the one they come to therapy with.

Psychotherapists serve as “facilitators” by setting intervention goals and building an explanatory model, according to clients’ needs.

Psychoeducation can be used in various contexts and can be adapted to several presentation formats.

Evidence has shown that psychoeducation is an effective intervention that improves people’s lives by increasing the level of knowledge and developing skills and improving relationships with others.

Psychoeducation in therapy

Psychoeducation is a form of therapeutic intervention that combines psychotherapy and education.

It can be used both in individual work and with families or in groups of people.

It can play a helpful role in ongoing interventions – for example, in family therapy or in the management of drug treatments.

Psychoeducation involves informing the client on the aspect that reflects the present problem of the client, but also therapeutic interventions based on various theoretical models (cognitive-behavioural therapy, systemic therapy, client-centred therapy, etc.).

Psychoeducational groups

Education groups focus on informing and understanding a specific topic of interest to clients, which helps them cope with life situations.

For example, the couple’s relationship, family, relationship with the child, divorce, etc.

Other education groups may focus on developing certain social skills through information, self-exploration, and various practical exercises.

Psychoeducation consists of an exchange of information relevant to the client’s field of interest and the application of therapeutic principles.

For example, a therapist might use a cognitive-behavioural approach to help the client develop alternative responses to events and address the client’s cognitive distortions (logic errors) related to these events.

The therapist can also present relevant information to help the client understand cognitive distortions and the use of skill-building techniques (e.g., communication and problem-solving skills) in order to increase the client’s ability to successfully apply the information. delivered.

Family psychoeducation

In family psychoeducation, the psychotherapist develops, together with the client, a series of activities specific to their life.

For example, the client may want to work on improving her relationship with her child or family, or on improving her performance at work.

The content is pre-ordered, but the new topics presented by the person can be integrated into the content of the meeting.

The content of the psychoeducation session or activity can be presented both verbally and visually through slides or demonstrations.

They can do role-playing games, awareness exercises, project video clips or do various group activities, which helps participants to understand and become more aware of the deeper contents of the topic.

The psychotherapist may choose to provide participants with written materials summarizing the topics and information, thus increasing the likelihood that participants will integrate and recall the information.

They are presented simultaneously to all participants, people with different degrees of understanding and knowledge having different experiences on the topic.

Other than counselling

The role of the therapist and the therapist-client relationship in psychoeducation is different from that of traditional forms of counselling and psychotherapy.

In psychoeducation, the therapist acts as a facilitator and teacher.

While counselling and psychotherapy often focus on remedying a problem, psychoeducation pays special attention to problem prevention and the development of strengths.

The therapist is responsible for establishing the goals and activities of the psychoeducational approach, on the one hand, and on the other hand, for adapting the intervention to the needs, motivations and strengths and weaknesses of each person.

Psychoeducation as a panic control technique

Currently, a growing percentage of people are experiencing panic attacks. Estimates suggest that one in three people will experience a panic attack at some point in their lives.

Panic attacks are one of the most common dissatisfactions associated with anxiety in all cultures.

For those who face them, panic attacks are often considered the most annoying of all anxiety symptoms. 

Characterized by periods of intense fear or dread, panic attacks occur suddenly, often without warning.

The person feels a feeling of horror, of imminent doom, of suffocation, and even has the impression that he will die.

Thoughts like “I’m going crazy” or “I’m losing my mind” are common. 

There are also a number of disturbing physical sensations (eg, accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling, respiratory failure, dizziness, nausea, numbness).

Basically, some normal and harmless physical sensations often trigger an episode of panic.

Although curable, it is important to understand that anxiety requires a period of psychotherapy in which the person understands the mechanism of anxiety and learns how to manage it.

However, there are a few things that, once known, can help people reduce the intensity of their anxiety in a short time until they learn other panic control techniques.

In this sense, psychoeducation has a crucial role.

The fact that the person acquires knowledge and understands what panic attacks are, why they occur and how they can be overcome can have great therapeutic power.

Some such useful information would be:

1. Panic attacks have never killed anyone. Although he seems to be dying, panic attacks have nothing to do with it.

Chest pain, inability to breathe and tingling are just chemical reactions that alter the physiological processes in the body.

The person will not have a heart attack, will not suffocate and will not faint.

2. Panic attacks are short. The disorder associated with panic attacks usually reaches its peak in 10 minutes, and episodes of panic generally subside after a few minutes.

This does not mean that the person will not be able to feel the effects long after the attack is over (some may feel disturbed for 30 to 60 minutes after that).

It is important to remember, therefore, that the worst passes quickly.

3. An attack or two does not mean a psychiatric disorder. Just because someone has a regular panic attack does not mean that they are crazy or destined to have a life full of unpredictable panic attacks.

Let’s remember that up to a third of people have an attack at some point in their lives, but less than 3% develop a panic disorder.

4. Be aware of your panic triggers. Different people, places or things trigger attacks on different people.

It is important for those who face them to be aware of what triggers them in their case, when they occur, around whom they occur, etc.

5. The treatment works. The good news is that there are effective treatments for panic when it begins to affect a person’s daily life.

However, cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy remains the most effective in such cases.

So, even if panic attacks become frequent and can have a major impact on the lives of those who face them, there are solutions to improve and heal them, without people having to spend the rest of their lives trying to prevent the next panic attack.

Conclusions

In this article, we talked about the crucial role that psychoeducation has in our day to day lives, especially for people who are having anxiety and panic attacks. 

Psychoeducation combines psychotherapy with education to help people understand and learn how to manage certain problems they face.

It can be used in a wide variety of situations, from those related to emotional and mental health –  to situations related to professional aspects.

Psychoeducation focuses on informing people, helping them to increase their level of awareness, to improve their communication and relational skills related to the target problem, the one they come to therapy with.

If you have questions, comments or recommendations, please feel free to leave a comment below. 

FAQ about psychoeducation

What is a psychoeducational intervention?

Psychoeducational interventions combine psychotherapy with education to help people understand and learn how to manage certain problems they face.

It can be used in a wide variety of situations, from those related to emotional and mental health –  to situations related to professional aspects.

What is the purpose of psychoeducation?

Psychoeducation’ purpose is informing people, helping them to increase their level of awareness, to improve their communication and relational skills related to the target problem, the one they come to therapy with.

Is CBT psychoeducation?

CBT is not psychoeducation. CBT is a form of therapy.

Psychoeducation is a method of teaching families and patients about their psychiatric disease.

What is family psychoeducation?

In family psychoeducation, the psychotherapist develops, together with the client, a series of activities specific to their life.

For example, the client may want to work on improving her relationship with her child or family, or on improving her performance at work.

What is a psychoeducational model?

A psychoeducational model is a form of therapeutic intervention that combines psychotherapy and education.

It can be used both in individual work and with families or in groups of people.

It can play a helpful role in ongoing interventions – for example, in family therapy or in the management of drug treatments.

Further reading

Psychoeducation in Mental Health, by Joseph Walsh 

Psychoeducation Manual for Bipolar Disorder, by Francesc Colom

A Student’s Guide to Therapeutic Counselling, by Kelly Budd 

The Self Love Journal: Banish Self-Doubt and Learn to Love Yourself,  by Leslie Marchand

Think Good, Feel Good: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook for Children and Young People, by Paul Stallard

References

Sciencedirect.com

Apa.org

Psychologytools.com

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