Category: Allied Health Options
What is it?
Psycho-education refers to the education offered to people who live with a psychological disturbance caused by various conditions. Psycho-education has been used for individuals with PTSD. A goal of psycho-education is for the individual to understand and be better able to deal with their PTSD. Sessions may provide information on the causes and effects of PTSD as well as strategies for managing symptoms and improving quality of life.
How does it work?
Psycho-education is based on the theory that with better knowledge, individuals with PTSD will be better able to manage their condition. The patient’s own strengths, resources and coping skills are reinforced in order to contribute to their own health and improve their quality of life.
Is it effective?
Two small studies have explored the effectiveness of psycho-education for PTSD symptoms. One 2004 study on Sudanese refugees found that one session of psycho-education was less effective in reducing PTSD symptoms than narrative exposure therapy(a type of trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy). small 2008 study of Turkish earthquake survivors suggested that six sessions of psycho-education in combination with prescribed medications was more effective than medications alone in reducing PTSD symptoms. However the same study found no difference between the effectiveness of psycho-education and medications when they were delivered on their own. Further research is required to determine the effectiveness of psycho-education for PTSD.
Are there any disadvantages?
No studies have formally considered the adverse effects of psycho-education. This intervention may not suit participants with insufficient cognition and communication skills to engage meaningfully with the educator.
Where do you get it?
Psycho-education for PTSD is administered by specifically trained registered health practitioners in a range of different settings, including individual consultation, group environments or through the internet. However, psycho-education is also available from a range of other sources. Care should be taken when psycho-education is obtained from sources where there is no verification of the credentials of the provider of the information.
What are the evidence limitations?
The evidence base for the use of psycho-education in PTSD is poor. Studies to date have been small and of low quality. The 2008 study does not report the method of diagnosing PTSD in participants. Therefore interpreting this evidence should be undertaken with caution.
Based on current limited evidence, psycho-education cannot be recommended as a first line intervention for those diagnosed with PTSD. More research is required.
Neuner, F, Schauer, M, Klaschik, C, Karunakara, U & Elbert, T 2004, ‘A comparison of narrative exposure therapy, supportive counselling, and psychoeducation for treating posttraumatic stress disorder in an African refugee settlement’, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, vol. 72, no. 4, pp. 579–587.
Oflaz, F, Hatipoglu, S & Aydin, H 2008, ‘Effectiveness of psychoeducation intervention on post-traumatic stress disorder and coping styles of earthquake survivors’, Journal of Clinical Nursing, vol. 17, pp. 677-687.