The Importance of Psycho-Education
in Professional Counseling
Good therapists and counselors have their own personal “toolbox” filled with many tools that they choose from when they see a client for professional counseling. Play-Doh, for example, is used widely to teach stress management and to help clients disclose personal information with less difficulty. It’s a distraction technique when you get right down to it.
One of the primary tools that your counselor uses is called “psychoeducation,” which involves teaching a client about their mental illness and how they can cope with it. Psychoeducation may be used with people with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, addiction, and personality disorders.
When a therapist uses psychoeducation, the goal is to help you understand the symptoms of the illness, how therapy may be beneficial, and resources that are available. Most important, it is designed to empower the client to make informed choices about his or her treatment. Through understanding an illness and the treatment process, a person knows what to expect and what their prognosis is, or the expected long-term outcome. Each therapist or counselor will do this using their own style.
Some therapists and counselors recommend books to help people understand their illnesses. Books are great because they tend to be cheap, their available in lots of different formats (eBooks, audio recordings, etc.) and can provide a wealth of useful information. For those who wish to understand the technicalities of their disorder, the “Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-5,” published by the American Psychiatric Association, offers a thorough list of criteria for every mental illnesses, developmental disorder and personality disorder known to man. This book is a shortened version of the much longer reference that professionals use to diagnose their clients.
The “Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-5” can provide you with information about your illness so you can better know what to expect. “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Dummies,” by Rhena Branch, is a resource that highlights the important parts of cognitive behavioral therapy, which is also known as CBT.
Psychoeducation is a strong part of CBT because the therapist’s goal is to actively teach the person how to change their thinking. CBT therapists often educate their clients on different thinking styles to help them understand how the way they think impacts their feelings and behaviors. “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Dummies” is a beneficial resource to help you understand the process of CBT, and particularly important if you are currently seeing a CBT therapist.