Socioenvironmental Therapy


Category: Allied Health Options

What is it?

Socioenvironmental therapy refers to a form of treatment where emphasis is placed on the physical and social environment to promote interpersonal relationships. This in turn can be influential in reducing behavioural disturbances of patients. Socio-environmental conflict, expressed as emotions, can be a powerful influence on rehabilitation outcomes.

How does it work?

Interventions for socio-environmental conflict involve a combination of education, skills training and contingency management. As people in the social environment of a person with a mental illness often find themselves operating at high levels of emotional arousal, an important aspect of this therapy is to bring these emotions within a more manageable range. Often these heighted emotional responses can range from anger and frustration to an overwhelming sense of needing to care for and do things for the person with PTSD.

Is it effective?

Socio-environmental therapy is typically suggested as an adjunct to other forms of treating PTSD. To date there have been no formal randomized controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness of socio-environmental therapy for those diagnosed with PTSD. Therefore, more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of socio-environmental therapy for those diagnosed with PTSD.

Are there any disadvantages?

The involvement of other persons as part of psychosocial rehabilitation may be inappropriate in certain circumstances (e.g. if they have been the perpetrators of trauma).

Where do you get it?

Professional assistance in the form of socio-environmental therapy should be provided by specifically trained, registered health practitioners.

What are the evidence limitations?

There is currently no explicit evidence to support socio-environmental therapy as an independent intervention for PTSD. Much of the evidence base is derived from lower levels of evidence such as expert opinion and clinical experiences. Therefore interpreting this evidence should be undertaken with caution.


Based on the current lack of high quality evidence, socio-environmental therapy cannot be recommended as a first-line, stand alone intervention for PTSD. It may be considered as an adjunct to other PTSD interventions, such as psychological and drug therapies.

Key References

Spaulding, WD, Sullivan, ME & Poland, JS 2003, ‘Treatment and Rehabilitation of Severe Mental Illness’, New York, Guilford Press.

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