Psychoeducational Group Topics
What Are Psychoeducational Groups
A psychoeducational group is a group therapy group conducted by a mental health professional that educates clients about their disorders and ways of coping. Psychoeducational groups utilize the group therapy process, where clients share their concerns and struggles with recovery with the group and facilitator comparable to other substance abuse groups. However, a key difference with psychoeducational groups compared to substance abuse therapy groups are the injection of materials to help convey significant information to the clients.
The introduction of materials into the psychoeducational group helps to make the group not only a safe place for clients to process their feelings and struggles, but it adds a strong educational component. Some of the material used in a psychoeducational group include sheets with statistical information, videos, handouts, books, curriculum and even guest speakers. These materials enable the client to see statistics, see written examples, read about others recovery details, have materials to study, and see other people sharing their stories including their ups, downs, consequences and triumphs of recovery. These materials help to increase a participant’s self-awareness of their choices.
Psychoeducational groups help the counselor have a topic with an agenda including activities. These groups are particularly valuable because they can provide resources that may aid in recovery, knowledge related to their affliction, and information to become more self-aware to the consequences of their condition.
The History of Psychoeducational Groups
According to Wikipedia, “The concept of psychoeducation was first noted in the medical literature, in an article by John E. Donley "Psychotherapy and re-education" in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, published in 1911. It wasn't until 30 years later that the first use of the word psychoeducation appeared in the medical literature in the title of the book, The psychoeducational clinic by Brian E. Tomlinson. (New York, NY, US: MacMillan Co.) published in 1941. In French, the first instance of the term psychoéducation is in the thesis "La stabilité du comportement" published in 1962.
The popularization and development of the term psychoeducation into its current form is widely attributed to the American researcher C.M. Anderson in 1980 for the treatment of schizophrenia. Her research concentrated on educating relatives about the symptoms and the process of schizophrenia. Also, her research focused on the stabilization of social authority and improving the handling of family members among themselves.
Finally, Anderson's research included more effective stress management techniques. Psychoeducation in behavior therapy has its origin in the patient's relearning of emotional and social skills. In the last few years increasingly systematic group programs have been developed, in order to make the knowledge more understandable to patients and their families.
Premise of Psychoeducational Groups
According to the research conducted by E.P. Lukens in 2004, “Psychoeducation has the potential to extend the impact of care provision well beyond the immediate situation by activating and reinforcing both formal and informal support systems (Caplan & Caplan, 2000; Lundwall, 1996; Pescosolido, Wright, & Sullivan, 1995) and teaching individuals and communities how to anticipate and manage periods of transition and crisis. If developed and implemented carefully, following specified guidelines for delivering and documenting evidence-based practices (Task Force on Promotion and Dissemination of Psychological Procedures, 1995).
“… Psychoeducational interventions have far-reaching application for acute and chronic illness and other life challenges across levels of the public health, social and civic services, and/or educational systems.” – E.P. Lukens
Who Can Benefit From Psychoeducational Groups
Clients from diverse ethnic, race, cultural, social economic, educational, gender, age, religious and sexual orientations can all be helped with psychoeducational groups. Psychoeducational groups embrace diversity of its clients while focusing on the specific issue or mental health concern for a particular psychoeducational group. Psychoeducational groups make the topic the identified common equivalent. This helps to put everyone on the same playing field in regards to the participants being able to trust that everyone in the group has a basic understanding and knowledge base for what the other members are experiencing. Psychoeducational groups can be utilized to help clients in multiple areas of mental health.
Psychoeducational groups include helping individual with:
- Mental Illness
- Substance Abuse
- Domestic Violence
- Trauma Survivors
- Weight Loss
- Chronic Physical Disease
- Anger Management
- Criminal Behavior
Psychoeducational Groups Topics
Psychoeducational groups focus on sharing information on a particular topic and/or teaching skills to the clients in the group. The members of the group are all working and/or healing from the same concern. They are struggling with equivalent issues. This commonality helps the group members to connect and relate better to each participant in the group. In psychoeducational groups, the counselor has the role of an instructor and not just the therapist. The therapist has a more active role in the therapeutic process which includes not only providing a topic for each group but having supplementary materials to educate, show examples and engage the clients in a supportive, therapeutic and educational manner. Topics covered in psychoeducational groups can vary depending on the group type.
Psychoeducational Group Topics That Can be Included in Most Groups Include:
- Positive thinking skills
- Anger management
- People skills or soft skills
- Conflict management
- Visualization activities
- Choice points
- Stress management
- Interpersonal communication
Psychoeducational Group Topics for Substance Abuse Clients can include:
- People, places and things
- Idle time
- The 12 steps
- Support systems
- Short and long term goals
Psychoeducational Group Topics for Grief Clients can include:
- The stages of grief
- Coping with loneliness
- Coping with loss
- Dealing with unmet expectations
- Planning a new future
- Saying goodbye to a loved one
- How to honor a loved one’s memory
Psychoeducational Group Topics For Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder) Clients Can Include:
- Education on the particular phobia topic
- Decrease shame
- Friendship formation and maintenance
- How to go from avoidance to approach
- Practice social skills
- Small talk role-plays
- Identify and pursue valued social goals
Psychoeducational Group Topics For Domestic Violence Clients Can Include:
- Understanding power and control
- Financial freedom
- Parent relationships
- Rebuilding social connections
- Safety planning
- Love does not hurt
- Seeking advocacy
Ellen P. Lukens, MSW, PhD William R. McFarlane, MD (2004). Psychoeducation as Evidence-Based Practice: Considerations for Practice, Research, and Policy
Looking for resources for your psychoeducational group? Theraplatform has several worksheets including those for specific groups like anxiety that you can use in your next session. If you’d like to streamline your practice further, check out Theraplatform, an all-in-one tool to help you manage the operations aspects of your practice. Try a free 30-day-trial today.