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We’ve heard countless times that “knowledge is power,” and it seems like a cliche these days. The reason that expression is so popular, however, is because it is true. When we learn about new topics and ideas, it empowers us to progress past our current levels. When dealing with health issues, education is paramount, and this is especially true for mental illness and substance abuse. If we can learn more about our disorders in terms of their effects on our bodies and quality of life, we are better equipped to make the necessary changes. When we learn about our mental health and our brain function, it is called psychoeducation.

What Is Psychoeducation?

Psychoeducation is clinically defined as a systematic, didactic, and structured transfer of knowledge about an illness and its treatments. In other words, it is when a professional teaches us about our illnesses and our available treatment options. It also teaches patients coping mechanisms and pain management to help with a treatment’s efficacy. Psychoeducation is considered an important component of many mental illness treatment models, especially substance abuse disorders. 

Family involvement in psychoeducation is greatly encouraged, as it helps not only the substance abusers cope with their disorder, but also helps family members cope and understand the disorder their loved one is struggling with. Issues like substance abuse and mental health affect the whole family, so psychoeducation works very well in a family therapy setting. Families can offer support with compassion and without enabling the substance abuse while also learning tools to cope with how their loved ones’ substance abuse is affecting them. 

What Are the Benefits of Psychoeducation?

Psychoeducation has been shown to benefit those who suffer from trauma disorders. People who have experienced trauma, particularly in childhood, frequently have overwhelming emotional responses, dissociation of attention, and cognitive development issues. Psychoeducation helps change the trauma survivors’ perspective of their trauma experience. Through learning which emotional responses are influenced by their experiences, people can begin to manage these responses. Trauma victims also learn more about their triggers and flashbacks through psychoeducation.

Relapse is also an issue that can be treated with psychoeducation, which has been shown to not only decrease the frequency of relapse but also the severity of relapse in those with substance abuse disorders. Family involvement in psychoeducation is important for this reason. Families can begin to recognize the triggers and signs of relapse in mental health and substance abuse disorders. This can provide a person with the support they need to get help before the relapse occurs. Individually, psychoeducation teaches a substance abuser how the substances change their cognitive functions and how that affects their moods and health.

What Are Common Types of Psychoeducation?

Psychoeducation is not a one-size-fits-all therapy, and the content of your psychoeducation therapy is determined by a professional based on your needs and which methods would work best. These methods can be purely educational, where a therapist will teach the patient simplifications of professional terms, visualization of key information, or a presentation of “missing links”– what the patient lacks in understanding about their disorder. Psychoeducation can also focus on enhancing coping mechanisms, life planning, or strengthening family bonds.

Psychoeducation can be broken down into three areas of focus:

  • Illness-focused: Psychoeducation with a focus on the illness is intended to teach patients about the biological and psychological implications of their illness. It helps patients understand what they can expect and how they can manage their symptoms.  
  • Treatment-focused: Psychoeducation with a focus on treatment is intended to teach patients about which treatment options are available to them and which would be most effective. It also teaches patients self-help methods they can practice if they cannot speak to a professional at that time.
  • Rehabilitation-focused: Psychoeducation with a focus on rehabilitation is meant to teach a patient about relapse prevention and methods of improving their quality of life. People will learn how addiction or trauma has affected their overall health and ways they can make lifestyle changes to help relieve symptoms or stress.

The area of focus that psychoeducation will take depends on where you are in the recovery process. For example, illness-focused psychoeducation can be just as beneficial in rehabilitation as it is at intake into a treatment program. Psychoeducation has many more benefits than this article can discuss. It is always best to research your local resources when making decisions about which treatment is best for you or your family.

Whether we realize it or not, human beings have been devising ways to better understand ourselves in order to increase our quality of life for millennia. The advancements made in psychology come from this inherent need to understand the human condition. We experience this ourselves every day. If you’ve ever asked yourself “Why am I like this?” then you recognize the need for self-awareness and understanding. The Guest House Ocala offers many therapy models that incorporate psychoeducation. Psychodrama is an increasingly popular form of psychoeducation. We also offer family therapy to help families understand their loved ones’ struggles and how the family can help the patient in their recovery process. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or mental health illness, please call us at (855) 483-7800. We are proud to employ a staff that has worked hard to ensure the health and safety of our patients during the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing us to stay open. Don’t hesitate, you deserve to live your best life.