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What is a psychoeducational group?

When a group of people all connect over the same mental health concern, it can often prove to be more effective in reducing distress than going it alone or one-on-one with a therapist.

Group therapy leverages this concept in a professional, clinical setting, with a licensed therapist providing instruction and guidance for the members of the group.

Within the field of group therapy, there are many different forms of groups that can serve any number of purposes.

One such form of group therapy is called a psychoeducational group. Let's learn about this form of group therapy and determine whether it may be right for you.

What is the purpose of a psychoeducational group?

Most forms of group therapy focus at least in part on the interpersonal relationships between the members. Members discuss thoughts and concerns and, over time, learn how to connect and communicate more effectively with the other group members and, by extension, their friends, family members, and society at large.

Psychoeducational groups inherently involve some interpersonal work: You are, after all, in the same room as other people. But unlike other forms of group therapy, interpersonal relationships are not the direct focus.

Instead, psychoeducational groups more closely resemble classes or courses. The therapist, rather than guiding interpersonal interactions between members, will teach the group members about any number of psychological topics.

The group members will usually have the same or similar mental health concerns. The point of a psychoeducational group is to learn about these concerns in-depth.

By knowing more about something, we are better able to measure it and control it.

For example, someone who suffers from anxiety may benefit from learning exactly how anxiety works in the brain. They may learn more intimately what triggers anxiety in general, as well as their own specific case of anxiety.

Practically, knowing what can trigger your anxiety can do two things:

  • Help you avoid triggers and learn coping skills when anxiety arises
  • Understand any underlying emotional trauma or disconnects that might be contributing to the anxiety.

In this way, psychoeducation groups focus less on helping people with anxiety relate to others, and more on helping those with anxiety relate to, connect to, and understand themselves.

Psychoeducation is often done in groups to help members understand that they are not alone. It can also help retention by allowing for questions and discussion.

What To Expect from a Psychoeducation Group

Your experience with psychoeducational groups varies depending on the exact group you sign up for, but grops usually consist of anywhere from 5 to 15 members.

How does a psychoeducation group work?

The other members of the group will likely be experiencing the same mental health concern that you are, including but not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Substance abuse
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder

By gathering patients with the same condition, groups can be more productive.

Your group will be led by a licensed therapist or psychologist, who will instruct the group on psychological ideas and concepts, as well as coping skills and ways to reduce distress in a practical manner.

Your psychoeducational group will likely not ask you to dive into any personal stories or concerns with your own life, as is the case with many other forms of group therapy, but some members may voluntarily share for the purposes of demonstration regarding the subject of the group.

What will I learn in a psychoeducational group?

The answer to this question depends on your presenting issue or mental health concern.

If you are in a psychoeducational group for depression, you will likely first learn the theories behind what depression actually is.

The exact cause of depression is not fully known and is likely manifold - that is, many different factors all contribute to each case of depression.

Some people have a genetic predisposition to developing depression, which can be set off by trauma or other distressing trigger events. Some people seem to simply be born with their eventual depression. Your therapist will help you understand your specific case and determine whether trauma may be contributing to your depression.

You will also likely learn about different types of depression, such as postpartum depression or major depressive disorder. There is also circumstantial depression, usually stemming from grief or loss, which may be temporary.

Your therapist will also guide the group through coping skills and strategies for reducing distress, such as:

  • Exercise
  • A Healthy Diet
  • Sunlight
  • Therapy
  • Medication

If you are in a psychoeducational group for something a little more tangible than depression, like substance abuse, you may learn very practical strategies for getting and staying clean. You may also be pointed to resources for more comprehensive treatment, like inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation.

Regardless of your presenting issue, you can rest assured knowing that you are in a safe, judgment-free zone. Professional therapists are trained to keep discussions civil and productive.

How long does psychoeducational group therapy take?

This, again, depends on your presenting issue, but courses of psychoeducational group therapy usually last around 12 sessions.

For "simpler" issues, or if the group is constructed to be more comprehensive per session, there may be as little as five sessions.

For mroe complex issues, or if the group is constructed to be more brief per session, you may have as many as 24 sessions.

Group Therapy in Brooklyn: Williamsburg Therapy Group

If you think you may benefit from therapy in a group setting, our Brooklyn office of doctoral-level group therapists is ready to help.

Every member of our staff is trained to the highest standard, both in practical therapy and in psychological concept.

Give us a call, and our patient coordinator will help match you with the right group therapy session for you. Feeling better may be closer than you think.

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