Psychoeducational Group Therapy for Children

Group psychotherapy as one of the most useful tools in psychological counseling obtains a variety of theoretical bases, approaches, and groups types. The choice of a kind of group patients are referred to depends on a variety of factors ranging from the mental health issue characteristics, age group, and the cultural background of the individuals. When group therapy as a general notion is capable of treatment through the group discussions and critical experience exchange, a particular type of therapy in a group will allow for concentrating on the specific needs of specific patients.

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Thus, the psychoeducational group combines the interventions aimed at behavioral change with the ones targeting patients’ learning experiences. When placed in such groups, a participant will be educated about the reasons for his or her issues and the possible ways to overcome them even outside the therapy environment. Such an approach amplifies the positive outcomes of therapy and ensures the patient’s safety and confidence in dealing with challenging problems on their own.

Facilitating Psychoeducational Group Work

The overall work with patients during the sessions is conditioned by the direction a type of group leads. The ultimate aim of group therapy is self-learning promoted for each participant that enables change behavior or attitudes to cure a disorder. According to Belmont (2017), even though personal advancement and self-discovery are the concepts that are expected to be mastered individually, they are “often best achieved not in isolation, but rather through relationships and support” (para. 1). From this perspective, a psychoeducational group provides an opportunity to help patients understand the core of their problems, learn from others, and enrich the knowledge about mental health issues.

To facilitate this type of group, I would concentrate on life skills learning and practice. Since the task of all the sessions is to learn, there should be a variety of activities aimed at educating patients and providing them with valuable information. To succeed at this task, I would apply “hands-on” materials including handouts and worksheet to use both in sessions and at home (Belmont, 2017, para. 2). Such constant inclusion of the patients in the learning process will facilitate the treatment interventions effects and ensure the achievement of the educational aim.

Also, it would be appropriate to combine individual and small group activities to vary the learning experiences. Quizzes, feedback discussions, and links between the sessions’ materials will ensure the consistency of therapy and will enable a therapist to control the process and adjust the intermediate results to the plan.

Psychoeducational type of group therapy is different from the process therapy in a variety of ways. The most obvious distinction is the activities initiated by a group leader during the session. Unlike the psychoeducational group, which concentrates on the learning experience of the patients and filling in the information gaps, process therapy applies long-term perspective and introduces activities targeting social communication and experience exchange.

Also, the results at which these activities are aimed, differ in psychoeducational and process groups. The first one is developed to educate the patients, identify the triggers of the problems and to adopt specific social skills to be able to overcome the difficulties without outside help (Gulley, 2015). The second one helps to cure a disorder by social interaction that might improve the condition over time.

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Identification of Target Population and Theme

When starting a psychoeducational group, I would choose children as a target population. Young individuals have little life experience and non-sufficient amount of knowledge to be able to deal with psychological issues. Thus, it is relevant to choose children as a target population for the psychoeducational group to teach them some essential behavioral patterns and skills that will be helpful for them to overcome difficulties.

As for the theme of the session interventions, chronic diseases in children would be chosen as a focus. According to Last, Stam, Hieuwenhuizen, and Grootenhuis (2007), the number of children who suffer chronic diseases is increasing year after year. These physical health issues are often accompanied by such mental disorders as anxiety, stress, social adjustment challenges which are caused by “frequent hospitalizations, undergoing painful medical procedures, taking medicine, and school absenteeism” (Last et al., 2007, p. 101). Therefore, therapy is an essential tool to help these children cope with the challenges they are exposed to.

The reason why psychoeducational group therapy applies to this target population is that children need guidance in any interventions that are introduced to them. Learning new skills and obtaining positive thinking and other coping strategies are most effective in a group environment where children can observe their peers, share their experience in learning and strengthen the knowledge under therapists’ supervision (Last et al., 2007). Since the chosen type of group requires acute attention to skills learning, constant practice within the framework of the “Thinking-Feeling-Doing model” can be efficiently carried out in such a therapeutic environment where guided education is a priority (Last et al., 2007, p. 102).

Appropriate Referring of Patients to Psychoeducational Group

The variety of group types indicates the different cases when a specific group therapy would be appropriate. As for a psychoeducational group, it is relevant to refer children, teenagers, or young adults to this type of therapy due to the lack of life experience and the need of these age groups to be guided through the learning process (Last et al., 2007).

However, adults experiencing substance abuse, depression, or other mental health issues might be referred to a psychoeducational group if they have repeatedly failed to manage the effects on their own. In such a case, a therapist might initiate a group with an educational approach to teach the skills necessary to deal with the problems individually outside the sessions’ environment.

There might be particular circumstances that could trigger the need for referring to a psychoeducational group. According to Gitterman and Knight (2016), mere adherence to a schedule or plan, as in curriculum therapy, might lead to a therapist’s omission of the treatment processes taking place during the sessions. If the plan developed within a manual for group work fails to be carried out and patients do not demonstrate inclusion in the treatment process or the decline in their coping behavior is detected, it is relevant to refer to a psychoeducational approach Gitterman & Knight, 2016). Doing so, a therapist will ensure positive outcomes of the interventions and the confidence of patients in their ability to cope with the reasons for their psychological problems individually.

Conclusion

To summarize the discussion, the choice of a type of group for therapy is essential and might affect the overall outcomes of the implemented therapeutic interventions. Unlike others, psychoeducational group therapy presents a variety of activities aimed at practicing the skills of self-learning, problems’ reasons identification, and coping strategies facilitation. It is relevant to refer children suffering from chronic illnesses to this type of group due to the psychological threats these patients are exposed to and the need of this age group to be educated about the ways of managing their emotions. Thus, teaching patients the appropriate skills in sessions’ environment facilitates the opportunities of the group participants to cope with difficulties outside therapy.

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References

Belmont, J. (2017). Strategies for running an effective psycho-educational group. PsychCentral. Web.

Gitterman, A., & Knight, C. (2016). Curriculum and psychoeducational groups: Opportunities and challenges. Social Work, 61(2), 103-110.

Gulley, T. (2015). Taylor G. Psycho-educational group. Web.

Last, B. F., Stam, H., Nieuwenhuizen, A. M., & Grootenhuis, M. A. (2007). Positive effects of a psycho-educational group intervention for children with a chronic disease: First results. Patient Education and Counseling, 65,101-112.

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