Psychoeducational Groups in Addiction Recovery
Learn about psychoeducational groups, their uses and benefits, and what happens during a group session in addiction recovery.
Table of Contents
Overview of Psychoeducational Groups
Psychoeducational groups are a form of education-based group therapy. Rather than focusing on individual client relationships, psychoeducational groups focus on providing education, training, and support.
Psychoeducation group topics can vary depending on the type of group, but all groups are focused on increasing awareness and providing support. Psychoeducational group examples include support groups, anger management groups, and family education groups.1
How Does Psychoeducation Work?
Psychoeducation in the group setting is typically led by an experienced individual or medical health professional. Psychoeducation works by combining elements from cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, and other forms of education.
There are four basic models of psychoeducation: the information model, skill training model, supportive model, and comprehensive models. The information model focuses on providing individuals and families with knowledge about their conditions and their management. The skill training model emphasizes learning new skills to manage the condition. The supportive model provides a space for individuals to share their experiences and empathize with one another. Finally, the comprehensive model is a combination of all three.2
Characteristics of Psychoeducational Group Therapy
While psychoeducational group therapy activities may vary depending on the type of psychoeducational group, there are some key characteristics of each session. Psychoeducational groups usually are focused on a specific illness, and groups usually have anywhere from four to twelve members. Sessions generally are an hour long.
Sessions are also most generally led by a mental health professional. Essential elements of psychoeducation are briefing the patients about their illness, and then delving into problem-solving, communication, and self-assertiveness training.
What Happens in Psychoeducational Therapy Sessions?
Psychoeducational counseling sessions are typically highly structured and often follow a manual or a pre-planned curriculum. The group leader takes an active role in leading the discussion. Psychoeducational group lesson plans are very concerned with how information is presented to individuals and how to best assist clients to incorporate the information into their lives so that it leads to productive and positive changes in their lives.3
Goals of a Psychoeducational Session
The goals of psychoeducational therapy can differ depending on the type of psychoeducational group. However, psychoeducational group topics and goals generally include:4
- Identifying symptoms, as well as their risks, and how to manage them
- Establishing clarity on diagnosis, treatment plan, and prognosis
- Understanding terminology and stigma surrounding the disorder
- Understanding the impact on family, school, or work
- Learning how to manage stress and improve self-esteem
- Providing resources on how to access legal, financial, or social aid if needed
When Can Psychoeducation Be Useful?
Psychoeducational groups can be useful for a number of conditions. The concept of psychoeducation first appeared in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology in 1911, and then was popularized in the 1980s by C.M Anderson through her work in the treatment of schizophrenia. Since then, it has been used in the treatment of a number of disorders including bipolar disorder, eating disorders, substance use disorder, clinical depression, and anxiety disorders.
Psychoeducation can be immensely powerful for individuals who suffer from schizophrenia, along with their families. For individuals with schizophrenia who have been hospitalized, psychoeducational groups have been shown to reduce rehospitalization rates by 10%.6
Psychoeducational group topics for individuals with schizophrenia focus on the message that schizophrenia is caused by biological factors and psychological stress. Psychoeducation emphasizes the importance of medication and psychosocial interventions are essential in the treatment of schizophrenia.
Individuals with bipolar disorder can also benefit from psychoeducational groups. For individuals with bipolar disorder, psychoeducational group topics focus on raising awareness of the illness, treatment adherence, early detection of relapse, and the avoidance of potential risks. Early detection of early signs specifically is important in preventing a major episode and potential hospitalization.7
Psychoeducational groups can be very beneficial for individuals struggling with eating disorders. In a recent study of individuals with binge eating disorder, it was found that after being treated with psychoeducational treatment for twelve weeks, individuals showed improvements in body mass index and a reduction of binge eating.8
Substance Use Disorder
Group therapy and psychoeducation are pivotal for individuals with substance use disorder, as individuals who participate in group treatments are more likely to stay committed to abstinence. Psychoeducational groups for addiction are some of the most common types of groups.
Psychoeducational groups provide positive peer support, which reduces feelings of isolation that many individuals with substance use disorder struggle with. Additionally, psychoeducational groups provide individuals with real examples of people in recovery.
Psychoeducation can also be useful for individuals with clinical depression. Individuals with depression who participate in psychoeducational groups tend to see a significant reduction in depressive symptoms. As with other disorders, psychoeducation improves treatment adherence and is linked to positive outcomes.9
Individuals with anxiety disorders can also benefit from psychoeducational group therapy. Psychoeducational groups are related to a reduction of anxiety, worry, and depressive symptoms. Additionally, individuals are given tools to cope with their symptoms in stress management psychoeducational groups.10
What Happens in Psychoeducational Therapy Sessions?
Typically, psychoeducational group therapy sessions are focused on providing education and discussion surrounding an illness or disorder. A facilitator will have prepared a group lesson plan beforehand and will present and then encourage a discussion.
Psychoeducational therapy curriculum is focused on four components: information transfer, medication and treatment plan support, the offer of self-help training, and holding space for individuals and their families to share their emotional frustrations.
A core focus of psychoeducational groups is the transmission of information from the mental health professional facilitating the group and those attending it. The idea behind this is that if individuals have education, they can begin taking positive steps to manage their conditions.
Provide Medication and Treatment Plan Support
Psychoeducational groups are beneficial in providing medication and treatment plan support. Individuals who attend psychoeducational groups are more likely to adhere to their treatment plans. Additionally, being around individuals with similar struggles can create a sense of community and feelings of support.
Offer of Self-Help Training
Another focus of psychoeducational therapy groups is to offer training specifically aimed at self-help. These trainings are designed to increase self-efficacy and awareness, aid in setting goals, and provide coping strategies to overcome obstacles.
Create a Place for Sharing Emotional Frustrations
Psychoeducational groups can provide a space for individuals and their families to share emotional frustrations related to the diagnosis. It can be helpful for both individuals and their families to vent their feelings in a supported environment.
Benefits of Psychoeducational Groups in Addiction Recovery
Psychoeducational groups have many proven benefits and are applicable to the treatment of several disorders. Specific benefits may differ depending on the type of psychoeducational group. As a whole, psychoeducational groups improve rehabilitation rate, provide support for families, resolve symptoms of mania, and offer a few other benefits as well.
Improves Rehabilitation Rate
Individuals who attend psychoeducational groups tend to have a higher rehabilitation rate and a lessened chance of relapse. Psychoeducational groups can provide community support and accountability for individuals struggling with a mental illness, especially those with substance use disorders. Additionally, psychoeducational groups reduce hospitalization and rehospitalization for certain groups, such as individuals with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
Decreases Burden and Distress of Families
A main focus of psychoeducational groups is to provide a space for individuals and their families to both vent and receive support in relation to their diagnosis. Psychoeducational groups also take some of the burden off of families, as they no longer are the sole source of support for the individual.
Encourages a Positive Attitude Toward Medication
Psychoeducational groups can cultivate a positive attitude toward taking medication and can increase medication compliance. For individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, adherence to medication is crucial in recovery.
Reduces Symptoms of Mania
Psychoeducation can also reduce symptoms of mania. Individuals are taught how to identify early signs of mania, and what to do to keep symptoms from escalating into an episode.
Improves Problem-Solving Abilities
A key component of psychoeducation is providing education on different coping mechanisms and strategies for individuals. Psychoeducation promotes self-efficacy and encourages individuals to make changes in their life while providing the guidance and strategy to do so.
Improves Self-Management Behaviors
Self-management is an important part of psychoeducation. Individuals are empowered to make better choices to manage themselves. Additionally, specific skills like anger management or anxiety management are taught in psychoeducational groups.
Get Treatment for Your Needs at Alta Centers
Psychoeducational group therapy can give you and your family the support it needs. At Alta Centers, we encourage individuals to participate in psychoeducational group therapy, to find their voice to both benefit themselves and the group.
Additionally, Alta Centers provides a safe and supported space for individuals going through a difficult time. Take the first step today in recovery and call us