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Innovative Idea   |    
Innovative IdeaInteractive Groups for Psychoeducation
Psychiatric Services 1999; doi:
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A continuing psychoeducational group therapy program for persons with chronic mental illness at a day treatment facility uses a relatively unstructured interactive format to promote consumer participation and improve consumers' retention of information relevant to their treatment. The primary purposes of the group are to increase consumers' understanding of their illness, teach symptom management, increase opportunities for positive social experiences, and teach interpersonal skills.

In the 50-minute sessions, the therapist encourages discussion of the information as it is presented, both between the clients and the therapist as well as among the clients themselves. Clients are encouraged to ask questions of the therapist, the therapist asks for information from the clients, and the clients help each other to learn the information through discussion. In contrast, in traditional lecture groups, the therapist verbally provides most information, with minimal discussion between the therapist and the clients or among the clients themselves. The interactive model is intended to maximize both the learning of therapeutically relevant information and the acquisition of social skills by providing consumers with an opportunity to apply what was learned through social interaction with therapists and peers.

In a study exploring the potential benefits of interactive therapy groups compared with lecture-style groups, consumers in the interactive group learned more information about their illness and retained significantly more information one week later than comsumers taught in a lecture-style class. Although consumers in both types of groups reported similar levels of satisfaction with their treatment, follow-up data suggested that the relationship between reported satisfaction and group format may depend on the measure of satisfaction used. (Denise Emer, Ph.D., and Amber McLarney, M.A., Department of Psychology, St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, New York 14778)

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