What is Psychoeducation in Psychological Therapy?

Psychoeducation is recommended in many cases. It's even used by different professionals and not only in the context of psychological therapy. We'll explain it to you here.
What is Psychoeducation in Psychological Therapy?
Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales

Written and verified by the psychologist Maria Fatima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 13 January, 2023

Behind a diagnosis lies a challenge: the acceptance of the disease by the patient, so that he/she initiates and maintains caring behaviors. How can this be achieved if there are fears, personal beliefs, social stigma, and other negative experiences? Through psychoeducation.

Psychoeducation is one of the tools used in psychotherapy to help patients understand how their disease works and collaborate with their care in a committed, sustained and responsible manner. Let’s take a closer look.

What does psychoeducation consist of?

Psychoeducation is a tool used in therapy with the aim of making the patient the true protagonist of his process of improvement and well-being. In this way, it aims at empowering the patient and promoting greater autonomy, providing information about the suffering condition.

Through psychoeducation, the patient can learn to identify symptoms, cycles, changes, or different alerts, which help him/her to prevent events. Thus, he/she acquires skills to cope with negative situations.

Undoubtedly, it’s a key tool for change.

Psychoeducation is also used with the patient’s family or environment, seeking that they become participants or facilitators of the processes. After all, the family or support network can be a health or risk factor in recovery.

In this way, in addition to providing information, different resources are taught to accompany, contain, and be prepared for the different circumstances that an illness may present. Such is the case of relapses.

psychoeducation
Understanding one’s own illness is not easy. However, a person’s recovery depends on their attitude toward taking care of themselves.

The importance of the process

The importance of psychoeducation lies in the fact that it turns the patient into an active collaborator in his or her therapeutic process. That is to say, it makes the patient’s responsibility transcend the framework of what happens in the office.

On the other hand, it can also be useful for the patient to acquire a new meaning with respect to his or her illness. By having information and being prepared, he can bring his resources into play and understand what is happening to him. In this way, he or she feels that they are doing something, thatthey are useful, and that he or she has power over his or her condition.

This is valid for his environment, as it contributes as a tool to reduce the stigma attached to certain diseases. One aspect that professionals work on is to remind the person that a disease does not mean being worth less or being weak. This also addresses issues related to self-esteem and improves adherence to treatment.

By offering a space for information, it contributes to dispel myths or erroneous beliefs about a given diagnosis.

When the family becomes part of the treatment, they are also more reliable informants in the case of relapses. This information is extremely useful for healthcare teams.

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The advantages of psychoeducation

Some of the advantages we find in the application of psychoeducation in psychological therapy are the following:

  • The patient learns to coexist better with his or her disease and accepts it as part of his or her life, so he or she acquires a more active role in his or her recovery. It also improves their attitude and allows them to gain confidence.
  • It improves a person’s quality of life since self-care guidelines are assumed.
  • It facilitates interaction between the patient and his family: When those close to the patient know what is happening, they can help and understand. Their expectations regarding the health-disease process are more adequate and real.
  • There is a better adaptation to the disease, both on the part of the patient and his or her close environment.

“Am I going crazy? Am I about to die? Is this serious?” These are some of the questions (accompanied by a whole emotional correlate) that arise when we do not have enough information regarding what is happening to us. In this sense, psychoeducation allows us to reduce anxiety, uncertainty, and fear.

psychoeducation for anxiety
Anxiety blocks self-care actions and paralyzes the good habits we could take.

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In which cases is it used?

Psychoeducation is recommended for multiple cases and is even used by different professionals. Not only in the framework of psychological therapy.

It’s especially useful for those cases in which the disorder or disease has chronic characteristics. Above all, it’s typically applied in the case of patients with depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.

Psychoeducation for life

The strategy promotes a comprehensive approach to the disease, emphasizing the biological, cognitive, and social aspects. It’s based on educating the patient so that he or she has information about what’s happening to him or her.

Information is key to any treatment and is a right of the patient who consults a doctor or therapist.

Psychoeducation is also a meeting point between the patient and the professional, since it’s not a matter of prescribing orders, but of finding joint proposals and solutions. It’s the patients themselves who can discover what works for them, what works for them, and what does not.

Thus, it’s not a vertical or unidirectional process, but an active and participatory one. In this sense, it’s important to understand that it is the patient who must apply self-care strategies and find the skills to face his or her disease at the present time and in the future.

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  • Aragonès, Enric & Cardoner, Narcis & Colom, Francesc & Lopez-Cortacans, German & Gilaberte, Inmaculada. (2013). Guía de Buena Práctica Clínica: Psicoeducación en pacientes con depresión.
  • Arone Mallqui, P., & Llaque Guerra, G. M. (2019). Eficacia del programa de psicoeducación para reducir las recaídas y mejorar la adherencia al tratamiento en el paciente con trastorno bipolar.
  • Beck, A. “Terapia cognitiva de la depresión” (1979) Ed. Desclee de Brouwer.

The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.