A key part of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is psycho education. After evaluating a client, I use the last 15 min of our session to educate them about their symptoms, their diagnosis, and how cognitive behavioral therapy can help them. This will be the clients first experience with psycho education, but not their last .
There are many places where psycho education plays an important role in a client’s treatment. Here are just a few:
- Providing information about depression, anxiety, or any other disorder they may have helps your client understand facts versus fears about their symptoms as well as evidenced based treatment that can help. This form of psycho education can offer your client hope that they can feel better and is often a time that my clients report as being a turning point for them.
- Educating your clients about their distorted thoughts and how to challenge them can be eye opening for them. Many people instinctively believe what their brain tells them and are surprised to learn that just because they think something, doesn’t make it true.
- Teaching how to do behavioral activation for depression or exposure and response prevention for anxiety is crucial. Oftentimes, we explore ideas with our clients but don’t actively teach them how to do things differently. In vivo exposures teaches our clients, first hand, how to face their fears without giving anxiety power. Without this type of psycho education in our sessions, clients often don’t follow through with their homework or, if they do, they are less likely to have success.
- Explaining what is happening in their brain to cause the symptoms they are having helps your client better understand their disorder and what they can do to create new circuits in their brain. Even my youngest clients enjoy my drawings of their brain and learning what they can do to teach their brain a better way.
These are just a few of the many ways cognitive behavioral therapy provides psycho education. At the end of each session, I ask my clients what they have learned and encourage them to write it in their therapy notebook for future reference. I also encourage them to share this information with family and friends because teaching others helps reinforce what we’ve been taught.