What is the difference between psychoeducation and psychotherapy? Both are words that get tossed around on a regular basis, but even when we asked experts that were in the field of counseling, many of them had difficulty distinguishing between the two. We thought we’d bring a little clarity to these words.
Let’s start with psychotherapy, which is treatment of a mental health issue using psychological rather than medical means. This means that there has been some sort of assessment that helps define the problem and that treatment goals have been established to help move the client forward in the therapeutic process. The goals are specifically related to the mental health issue that has been identified. Psychotherapy can be provided by a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, counselor or other licensed mental health therapist. It can take place in an individual, family or group format, depending on the need.
Psychoeducation is typically education provided to a person with a mental health issue and/or their family that helps them deal with their condition in a more optimal way. An assessment may not necessarily be performed by the provider of the psychoeducation. Sessions can focus on various topics that can be helpful to many different people with many different struggles. Psychoeducation often focuses on education about mental health, coping skills, empowerment, or communication to name a few. Psychoeducation can be extremely helpful and can also be provided in an individual, family or group format, but is not specifically treatment. It is often provided by a licensed mental health professional, but may also be provided by other experts as well.
We hope that these definitions are helpful in your understanding of the difference between psychotherapy and psychoeducation.