Delivering family psychoeducation at the mental health acute inpatient service: A practitioner narrative

Michael Nolan, Melissa Petrakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


What is known on the subject?: The admission of a loved one for first episode psychosis can cause considerable distress and confusion for family members. Psychoeducation can enhance family members’ knowledge of the disease process and their role in supporting recovery. What this paper adds to existing knowledge: There is limited research on psychoeducation processes within adult inpatient settings. A Practitioner Narrative found that basic assessment questions can help guide the psychoeducation process. The Stress Vulnerability and Phases of Psychosis Models are valuable and efficient educational tools in answering many typical questions. What are the implications for practice?: Psychoeducation sessions should be offered routinely in the early stage of a first episode psychosis, but must be individualized to family needs and concerns. The psychoeducation structure also provides an opportunity for family members to “tell their story” to process the events leading up to a first admission and their emotional reactions to the service user's illness. Abstract Aim To clarify how initial psychoeducation, while typically brief, can best be targeted to the needs of families during the acute treatment phase of a first episode of psychosis, when there is often significant distress and confusion. Method Over 6 months of conducting inpatient psychoeducation meetings, with families of individuals experiencing first-episode psychosis, a senior mental health nurse—as a practice development undertaking—kept a record of needs/issues expressed by families. Thesis The most frequent needs of families during a first episode of psychosis were: 1. Opportunity to discuss events leading to admission; 2. Space to share feelings and fears; 3. Have practical information concerning current care; 4. Education regarding the nature of psychotic symptoms and 5. Information about recovery. Implications for Practice Family members of individuals experiencing a first episode of psychosis often require an opportunity to process the events leading up to the admission, and their emotional reactions to the individual's illness and admission. The psychoeducation process can be individualized and targeted to the needs of families, with active listening to the family's stories. Psychoeducational frameworks that were useful for explaining issues raised were the Stress Vulnerability Model and the Phases of Psychosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • acute mental health
  • carers/families
  • early intervention
  • psychoeducational family work
  • psychosis

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