Psychoeducation was originally conceived as a composite of numerous therapeutic elements within a complex family therapy intervention. Patients and their relatives were, by means of preliminary briefing concerning the illness, supposed to develop a fundamental understanding of the therapy and further be convinced to commit to more long-term involvement. Since the mid 1980s, psychoeducation in German-speaking countries has evolved into an independent therapeutic program with a focus on the didactically skillful communication of key information within the framework of a cognitive-behavioral approach. Through this, patients and their relatives should be empowered to understand and accept the illness and cope with it in a successful manner. Achievement of this basic-level competency is considered to constitute an "obligatory-exercise" program upon which additional "voluntary-exercise" programs such as individual behavioral therapy, self-assertiveness training, problem-solving training, communication training, and further family therapy interventions can be built. Psychoeducation looks to combine the factor of empowerment of the affected with scientifically founded treatment expertise in as efficient a manner as possible. A randomized multicenter study based in Munich showed that within a 2-year period such a program was related to a significant reduction in rehospitalization rates from 58% to 41% and also a shortening of intermittent days spent in hospital from 78 to 39 days. Psychoeducation, in the form of an obligatory-exercise program, should be made available to all patients suffering from a schizophrenic disorder and their families.
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