Psychoeducation & CBT expert, Kimberly Morrow

The Importance of Psychoeducation in CBT

A key part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is psychoeducation. And, it begins during my first session with clients. After the initial evaluation, I use the last 15 minutes of our session for psychoeducation.  I teach them about their symptoms, their diagnosis, and how CBT can help. 

While this may be a client’s first experience with psychoeducation and CBT, it will not be their last.  Through their time under my care, I will continue to strengthen their understanding of the therapy model. 

Why? We know that cognitive behavior therapy is the current gold standard of psychotherapy. And, we know that one reason for this is psychoeducation.  Once clients have an understanding of CBT and how it works, they find it easy to apply CBT to their lives, outside of therapy sessions.  As with so many things in life, it’s practice that helps us (and your clients) get better.

There are many places where psychoeducation plays an important role in a client’s treatment.  Here are few ways to combine it into your CBT practice.

At the end of each session, I ask my clients what they have learned and encourage them to write it in their therapy notebook. I also encourage them to share what they learned with family and friends. After all, teaching others helps reinforce what they’ve learned.

Psychoeducation can offer a path towards hope and is often a turning point in their treatment.

Educating your clients about depression, anxiety, or another disorder they may have, helps them to understand the facts and the evidence-based treatment. Education also helps them let go of fear while embracing hope and healing.  (Read our post, “The Power of Diagnosis”  for a powerful story on psychoeducation.)

Learning to identify distorted thoughts and how to challenge them can be eye-opening for your clients.

Instinctively, many people believe what their brains tell them. And, they are surprised to learn that just because they think something, doesn’t make it true. This is often a game-changing revelation for clients. Learn how in our class, Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Anxiety.

Teaching behavioral activation for depression or exposure and response prevention (ERP) for anxiety is crucial.

Often, we explore abstract ideas with our clients, but we fail to help our clients apply them. In vivo exposures teach our clients, first-hand, how to face their fears without giving anxiety power.  Without this type of psychoeducation, clients often don’t follow through with their homework. Or if they do, they are less likely to have success.

Psychoeducation about CBT encourages neuroplasticity.

Explaining what happens in the brain to cause symptoms helps your clients. It helps them to better understand their disorder. And, it helps them understand what they can do to create new circuits in their brain. Even my youngest clients enjoy my drawings of their brains and learning what they can do to teach their brains a better way.

How I End My CBT Sessions to Reinforce Learning

At the end of each session, I ask my clients what they have learned and encourage them to write it in their therapy notebook. I also encourage them to share what they learned with family and friends. After all, teaching others helps reinforce what they’ve learned.

Learn More About Psychoeducation & CBT

Learn more about psychoeducation and CBT in our book, CBT for Anxiety: A Step-By-Step Training Manual for the Treatment of Fear, Panic, Worry and OCD.  Elizabeth and I have included dozens of reproducible worksheets, exercises, and handouts to share with clients and their families. CBT for Anxiety is a clear and practical workbook that gives you immediate tools to motivate, encourage, and effectively treat even your more anxious clients.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy & Psychoeducation Resources

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