Psychoeducation is an important part of most psychological interventions and has a good evidence base as a brief, passive, standalone intervention for a range of psycho-emotional problems (Devine & Westlake, 1995; Donkers et al, 2009).
Psychoeducation simply refers to providing information to a client about the treatment they’ll receive or about the nature of their illness.
There is a whole lot of misinformation about psychological treatments and specific disorders and providing simple, clear, and jargon-free education to clients about therapy can facilitate understanding and “the buy-in” to therapy.
Many of us have probably had the experience of “having things done to us” by a medical specialist without really understanding why. This could include undergoing assessments, taking medicine, or even knowing why we are at a particular appointment. This can increase anxiety and reduce ongoing treatment adherence, clearly mitigating any potential benefits of the treatment.
Not only is it a good idea to facilitate client understanding but could also be regarded as an explicit way to meet our ethical obligation of informed consent.
Here is a standard script of the psychoeducation I provide to clients. I’ve developed this over time, based on the my particular style. A hugely important omission is all the non-verbals that I use, which make a significant impact on the delivery of this information. At times I’ll add other things, change the order of things, or make it more personalised (depending on what information I have from the client) but I think I’ve provided a reasonable outline of the basics.
Similarly, here is a pdf version and a word version of a double-sided handout that I’ve made that matches the things I discuss in the psychoeducation session. It is very simplistic and you could probably google lots of other variations – but it does a good enough job for me. I included the word version so you can adapt it to your own use.
I would really appreciate feedback regarding how other people deliver psychoeducation and suggestions on how I can improve (e.g., am I missing something that you always tell/explain to clients?)
Daniel J. Brown
Donker, T., Griffiths, K. M., Cuijpers, P., & Christensen, H. (2009). Psychoeducation for depression, anxiety and psychological distress: a meta-analysis. BMC medicine, 7(1), 79.
Devine, E. C., & Westlake, S. K. (1995). The effects of psychoeducational care provided to adults with cancer: meta-analysis of 116 studies. In Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects (DARE): Quality-assessed Reviews. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (UK).