What is psychoeducation?

Providing education and advice (psychoeducation) to patients and their families is often seen as an important early step in the treatment of patients with ADHD,1 and could help to improve treatment adherence,2,3 promote satisfaction with treatment,3 and increase positive functioning outcomes.4

Although psychoeducation is recommended by the NICE guideline on diagnosis and management of ADHD in children, young people and adults, and the European clinical guidelines for hyperkinetic disorder,1,5 it is not an intervention that is frequently evaluated, and much of the supportive evidence and guidance for this intervention comes from reviews or clinicians’ personal experience in practice.3,6 A 2011 review by Ferrin & Taylor, based largely on practical experience, advised that psychoeducation should be considered as distinct from behavioural interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy or parent- or teacher-led behavioural interventions, and be viewed as the provision of information regarding ADHD to patients, their families and teachers.6

A systematic review of the available evidence led to the development of an algorithm of psychoeducational approaches in ADHD (Figure).3

Proposed algorithm for psychoeducational approaches in ADHD
Figure adapted from Montoya et al, Eur Psychiatry 2011; 26: 166-175, with kind permission.3


Proposed algorithm for psychoeducational approaches in ADHD

Following diagnosis, the clinician should interview the child and parents about their health beliefs to get an idea of what pre-conceptions or misconceptions may impede understanding and treatment of the disorder.1,3 Materials such as brochures, books, educational videos and internet resources can support the clinician to inform patients and families on the disorder and its impact on family life (Figure).1,3,6 Children who are old enough should also be educated about self-observation and self-management.1

Psychoeducation can also be beneficial in helping teachers with recognition and management of the disorder, including skills for coping with troublesome events and improving teacher–child and peer-to-peer relationships (Figure).3 This can also be combined with training in teacher-led behavioural interventions. Psychoeducation for teachers may support children and adolescents with ADHD by helping to foster a therapeutic relationship between the teacher and pupil to improve social behaviour.3 Furthermore, psychoeducation for teachers provides a bidirectional source of information on ADHD that helps educate patients and their families on the condition, as well as helping to improve the recognition and management of ADHD by teachers.6

Psychoeducation may also be effective when administered as group education sessions.7,8

The main characteristics of a good group psychoeducation programme for patients with ADHD and their parents, was proposed by Ferrin & Taylor (Figure).6

Main characteristics of a good psychoeducation programme for patients and their parents/carers/families (proposed by Ferrin & Taylor)
Figure adapted from Ferrin M, Taylor E. Future Neurology 2011; 6; 399-413, with kind permission.6

Main characteristics of a good psychoeducation programme

Studies of psychoeducation have indicated benefits for the treatment of ADHD, both in children and in adults.


View references

  1. Taylor E, Döpfner M, Sergeant J, et al. European clinical guidelines for hyperkinetic disorder – first upgrade. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2004; 13 (Suppl 1): I7-30.
  2. Corkum P, Rimer P, Schachar R. Parental knowledge of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and opinions of treatments options: impact on enrolment and adherence to a 12-month treatment trial. Can J Psychiatry 1999; 44: 1043-1048.
  3. Montoya A, Colom F, Ferrin M. Is psychoeducation for parents and teachers of children and adolescents with ADHD efficacious? A systematic literature review. Eur Psychiatry 2011; 26: 166-175.
  4. McCleary L, Ridley T. Parenting adolescents with ADHD: evaluation of a psychoeducation group. Patient Educ Couns 1999; 38: 3-10.
  5. NICE (2008) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Diagnosis and Management of ADHD in Children, Young People and Adults. NICE clinical guideline 72. Available at [NICE guideline]. Last accessed May 2015.
  6. Ferrin M, Taylor E. Child and caregiver issues in the treatment of attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder: education, adherence and treatment choice. Future Neurology 2011; 6; 399-413.
  7. Hantson J, Wang PP, Grizenko-Vida M, et al. Effectiveness of a therapeutic summer camp for children with ADHD: Phase I Clinical Intervention Trial. J Atten Disord 2012; 16: 610-617.
  8. Fields SA, Hale LR. Psychoeducational groups for youth attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: a family medicine pilot project. Ment Health Fam Med 2011; 8: 157-165.

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