What is Psychoeducation?
Psychoeducation refers to an educational treatment program that centers on fostering a better understanding of a particular concept or condition in both adolescent clients and their loved ones.
Psychoeducation can be provided under a larger treatment plan, or as an individualized process for friends and family members who need a better context of what their teen is going through, what their treatment might entail, and what their needs might be when they come back home.
Why is Psychoeducation Beneficial?
It’s important to emphasize that psychoeducation is not only relevant for people who are going through treatment themselves, but for their closest friends and loved ones as well. A common problem for many people with acute mental health issues is that there is a fundamental dearth of understanding and compassion for mental health problems in the general population, as well as an abundance of misinformation.
In many cases, it can be disheartening and difficult to come home from an extended outpatient treatment program with group therapy sessions where teens can spend time with other people who share their experiences and feelings and realize that their families or closest friends are much less understanding of what they’re going through, despite their best efforts.
Furthermore, the superiority of a targeted and specific psychoeducation program is that a therapist can speak at length about mental health information that is relevant to a teen’s condition, without overwhelming friends and family members with details that are superfluous or irrelevant.
Mental health information, whether online or in popular media, may be misleading or outdated. Sometimes, the information is contradictory because circumstances can affect how certain mental health conditions present themselves, as well as which treatments might be relevant.
Symptoms provided in isolation might point at one condition, but a mental health professional will have the training and experience necessary to screen for something completely different. In that same vein, mental health professionals are in a much better position to educate teens and their loved ones on the specifics of a condition.
In cases where teens don’t want their condition discussed with acquaintances or family members, psychoeducation can still provide a way to dissect and better understand one’s own mental health, how past experiences or potential trauma might have influenced the development of new symptoms, as well as why certain treatments may work over others.
Psychoeducation also helps adolescents combat feelings of self-stigmatization, look towards healthier coping mechanisms, and complement treatment nicely as a way for teens to better understand why their treatments are structured the way they are structured, providing a sense of agency for teens, and coordination between teens and their treatment providers.
What Does Psychoeducation Look Like?
A psychoeducation session is structured like a seminar or learning lesson in an academic setting, albeit more personal, and with a greater emphasis on one-on-one interaction. The therapist in question will begin with an introduction, and perhaps an outline of the session’s topics of discussion, or the key points they want to address. From there, details vary based on the individual therapist’s psychoeducational approach. There may be a greater emphasis on interactive elements for some therapists over others.
Some therapists place greater value on technological help, slideshows, or video examples – others rely on anecdotes, storytelling, or personal experience. Questions-and-answers are a common part of psychoeducation, helping those present address any concerns, preconceptions, or misunderstandings that they might have. If the session is one of many, then the therapist might call back to facts or information relayed in previous sessions, to refresh the memory, re-emphasize an important point, or see whether a key piece of information has stuck.
Towards the end of a session, a greater focus is placed on practicality – how this information plays into the teen’s current treatment progress, what the takeaway is in relation to their current or short-term goals, as well as useful resources or information for further study and research at a teen’s own volition.
Sometimes, psychoeducation sessions may be one-off sessions meant to help address misunderstandings or answer questions that a teen or their family might have with regards to a specific mental health issue, or type of condition.
At other times, psychoeducation can be a continuing part of a larger treatment process, coinciding with a teen’s treatment to help them learn more about their condition as their treatment goes on – especially if their treatment plan and condition is more complex, such as a co-occurring disorder of both substance abuse and major depression.
Types of Psychoeducation
The type of psychoeducation provided usually depends on the treatments or points of interest in a teen’s condition. Here at the Arrow House, we provide psychoeducation for a variety of mental health issues, from specific diagnoses to non-specific mental health concerns, and topics of emotional wellbeing.
We want to emphasize that psychoeducation is not just valuable in cases of mental illness, but can also help elaborate on the importance of preventative mental healthcare, building resilience in teens and among family members, and screening for mental health issues among loved ones (red flags and warning signs, for example). Some different types of psychoeducation can include:
- Mental health condition-specific psychoeducation.
- Coping skills-based psychoeducation.
- Parenting psychoeducation.
- Interpersonal skills psychoeducation.
- Grief and bereavement psychoeducation.
- Post-traumatic psychoeducation.
- Developmental health education.
- Substance use education.
- Mindfulness and medication psychoeducation.
- And much more.
Psychoeducation programs at the Arrow House will usually be part of a larger treatment plan, or can help family members learn more about relevant mental health topics for their loved one’s treatment.
Psychoeducation at the Arrow House
Here at the Arrow House, we provide a variety of modalities for adolescents and families seeking mental health treatment. We know that getting help is not always easy – and in most cases, mental health problems can be confusing and frustrating, especially for teens experiencing a sudden onset of symptoms in one of the most turbulent periods of their life.
Psychoeducation is meant to help teens and families see things more clearly and develop a sense of orientation within the confusing landscape of mental health treatment. We don’t just want to provide care – we want to help improve the general population’s understanding of different mental health issues, and help communities become more compassionate towards each other. To learn more about our psychoeducation programs and other modalities, contact us online or give us a call at 657.282.4263.