Trauma psychoeducation helps you understand trauma and how it affects the body, which in turn, can help you learn to manage it.
It can feel isolating to experience trauma. You may even think that part of what happened is your fault or that you’re not doing enough to move on.
Psychoeducation addresses these concerns and helps you realize that trauma is like a nervous system injury that many people need help to process.
Having a comprehensive understanding of your condition can make it easier to manage and provide you with better coping skills.
That’s where psychoeducation comes in. It’s the practice of teaching you more about the mental health conditions you’re living with.
For example, treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) usually involves therapy and medication. Trauma psychoeducation helps this process by providing you with insight to understand how your previous trauma may have affected your brain and led to your current symptoms.
You might learn about how the autonomic nervous system is designed to protect you from threats to your safety. When you experience trauma, your fight, flight, freeze or fawn response becomes active.
Trauma psychoeducation helps you see that your symptoms are evidence of the autonomic nervous system’s protective response and not a weakness on your part. Your feeling and reactions are expected and understandable.
By increasing your understanding of your trauma response, psychoeducation can make it easier for you to cope. You might feel relieved to know that what you’re experiencing is a common response to trauma.
You may also feel more motivated to stick to your treatment plan because you understand more about how the treatment is intended to help.
Trauma psychoeducation can also help your mental health by reducing your trauma symptoms.
A supportive counseling program that included psychoeducation made a positive difference in depression, dysfunction, and anxiety symptoms of survivors of torture and other types of violence in Northern Iraq in a 2016 study.
A 2018 study found that 12 sessions of trauma-informed psychoeducation positively impacted Somali refugee youth by reducing their PTSD symptoms and increasing their perception of social support.
Even a single session of trauma psychoeducation may help, as indicated by 98% of people in a small
You may still need additional support or treatment, though. Trauma psychoeducation alone may not be enough for some people living with the effects of trauma.
The goal of psychoeducation is to provide you with insight into your condition. Some of the topics covered may include:
- condition causes, symptoms, progression, and prognosis
- underlying nervous system mechanisms
- coping strategies
- treatment options
- signs and symptoms of recurrence
- support suggestions for family
- identification of truths versus misconceptions and stigmas
Psychoeducation may also include problem solving and communication skills, as well as assertiveness training.
There are different models of psychoeducation. They include:
- Informational: providing information about the condition
- Skill training: developing specific skills to aid in condition management
- Supportive: using support groups to encourage the sharing of feelings
- Comprehensive: combines the informational, skill training, and supportive models
The sessions can be individual or done in a group. There also may be online resources available such as:
- discussion forums
- video conferences
Some trauma-specific resources include:
post-traumatic stress disorder
- National Center for PTSD
- VA Mobile Apps
- Online programs
- The PTSD Workbook
- Mind Remake Project — Printable Workbooks and Manuals
- 10 Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) Worksheets and Practices
Psychoeducation can be active such as an interactive session with a therapist and your family. Or it can be passive, where you’re provided with learning materials to use on your own.
Group psychoeducation consists of people with the same issue. So, a trauma psychoeducation group would include people living with PTSD or complex PTSD (C-PTSD).
Trauma can have a lasting impact on your life, but treatment and psychoeducation can help.
Trauma psychoeducation may increase the effectiveness of treatment for some people. In the process of increasing awareness and knowledge, psychoeducation removes some self-stigma from your symptoms.
It can also make it easier to adhere to your treatment plan and reach out for extra support when you need it.
There’s an abundance of resources available to you, both in person and online. Psych Central also has a PTSD hub you can visit for additional information.