Introduction to Family Psychoeducation


1 Welcome to this program of "family psychoeducation." This is meant to be a way of doing something very important and useful. In many ways, it's a new way of doing things. You can be a pioneer in trying out this new way, and seeing if you can get it to be useful and fun. If you can, that will be cause for great celebration!

In this text unit the author says that the program you are starting

A. May be fun and useful, and in many ways it's new.


B. Lets you get lots of physical exercise that helps you sleep better.

Alternate reading

2 What you're starting to read is in a format where there are short sections, or "text units," and there's a little question after each one. This format is meant for people to read together. I hope you'll find that answering questions, and finding that you agree on the answers, and celebrating when that happens, makes the process more active and fun, rather than just reading.

In this text unit, the author says that one of the purposes of the questions after each sections is to

A. Practice reading comprehension, which is a very important skill, and which helps on all sorts of school tests,


B. Make the reading more fun for people to do together.

3 When one person is a tutor and the other is a student, the usual custom is for them to take turns reading the text units aloud to each other, for the student to answer each question, and for the tutor to give feedback on whether they agree on the answer. When alternate reading is done in families, the custom can be to go in a circle, taking turns reading the text units, and letting the person sitting to the reader's right answer the question. As a family, you can work out whatever method you want for who does the reading and who answers the questions.

If one of the parents reads every section aloud, and the children together figure out the answer to each question, that is

A. Against the rules and regulations of alternate reading,


B. Fine, if that's what works best for your family.

4 An important point about answering the questions is that it's not a tragedy or anything to be ashamed of if someone misses a question. It's no big deal. People just say their thought was that the other was the answer, and on they go. It's not important to figure out the correct answer and make anyone who missed it see the error of their ways. You celebrate when people agree on the right answer, and you don't worry about it when they don't. If people want to talk about why they answered as they did, that's fine, and if they don't, that's fine too.

The author feels that

A. You shouldn't go on reading until everyone understands the right answer to the question and why it's right.


B. Answering the questions is something to make the process less boring and more active; the questions are not test questions to feel bad about missing or that it's super-important to get right.

Mental health, psychoeducation, and living a good life

5 What is the point of this program? It's to let family members work together on improving their mental health. The hope is that by working together, each and every family member -- not just one of them -- can become more mentally healthy.

What is mental health? We define it here as the skills that help you to be happy and make others happy; to be kind to yourself and be kind to others. Nobody is perfect at this, and everyone can benefit from working on it.

Rather than speaking about mental health, we could say that the ability to be kind to yourself and others is what lets you "live a good life." A good life and a mentally healthy life are pretty much the same thing.

How do we define mental health and good life, in this program?

A. Not having any of several diagnoses that are in an official book.


B. Being able to be kind to self and others, being able to make self and others happy.

6 People have learned a lot about how to build the skills that help us to be happy and make others happy. One major way of improving these skills is by the same methods people use in education: reading and thinking about how and why to do something, and practicing doing it. Rather than math skills or writing skills, the topic is "psychological skills." Because this is education rather than therapy, we call it "psychoeducation" instead of "psychotherapy."

The author says in this text unit that the skills necessary to be happy and help others to be happy

A. Can be delivered only in appointments with mental health professionals who have licenses and advanced training.


B. Can be learned by reading about these skills and practicing them.

You're in the same boat. Cooperation versus competition

7 Here's something very important to keep in mind when doing family psychoeducation, or doing anything together as a family. It's an idea that's important enough to say it in several ways:

You are in the same boat.

You are in a "cooperative game," not a "competitive game."

When someone in your family becomes happy or has a success, that's reason for you to feel happy rather than to feel jealous or to feel you are getting beat in the competition.

The goal is to increase the total happiness and success of the whole family, not to see who can do better than some other family member.

Your goal is to get skilled enough at certain things that you can be happy and make other people happy -- not that you get better at those things than other family members are.

These ideas are easy for me to write, but they are sometimes very difficult to carry out. The phrase "sibling rivalry," which refers to the tendency of brothers or sisters to feel in competition with each other, was not invented for no reason!

A summary of this text unit is

A. Try not to see yourself as in competition with family members, but as in an effort to make things better for all family members.


B. It is a cooperative activity when musicians play together -- they are all hoping that their fellow musicians do well, because that makes the whole performance better.

What psychological skills are

8 One important step toward improving psychological skills is just getting in mind what those skills are. Lots of people have thought a lot about what those skills are. Can we give a list of skills such that if you get really good at them, you have a great chance of having a good life? If so, that's a great reason for studying those skills! The next three sections list skills and principles for mental health and a good life. When you come to a situation where you need to respond, it's often very helpful to recognize which skills are called for -- as in, "Here's something that will challenge my fortitude." Or, "Now's a time to use my decision-making skills." Or "Now I have a chance to use my kindness skills." When you do good things, it's good to file them in your memory as if you have a file folder for each of several skills, as in, "Hooray, I used my honesty and self-discipline skills, even though it was hard!"

In this text unit the author's main purpose is to

A. Tell why the notion of psychological skills, and a list of them, is a worthwhile and useful thing to have in mind.


B. Explain in detail how to use the skill of fortitude so as to improve in anger control.

9 Here are some examples. Productivity is the ability to do work, to make efforts toward accomplishing goals. Joyousness is the skill of recognizing and feeling good about your kind acts and accomplishments, the things people have done that help you, and the ways in which fate has blessed you. Kindness is the skill of helping someone else to be happier. Honesty is telling the truth and not stealing or cheating. Fortitude is handling it when undesirable things happen -- being strong enough to handle hardship. The skill of good individual decisions is thinking carefully about what to do and making good choices. The skill of good joint decisions is working well with another person or other people to try to agree on a plan that affects you both.

If someone has something bad happen, but the person stays calm and focuses on figuring out the best way to respond to what happened, the person is using the skills of

A. fortitude and good decisions,


B. joyousness and honesty?

10 Here are some more psychological skills. Nonviolence is not hurting or killing, and working toward a world where violence has ended. Respectful talk is speaking in a gentle way that doesn't hurt people's feelings, unless there's a really good reason not to. Friendship-building is making and keeping good relationships. Self-discipline is doing things that accomplish your goals, even if those things are not the most fun or pleasant at the time. Loyalty is figuring out which people you want to stick by and stick up for, and doing so.

If someone decides that a relationship with a family member is very important, and the person often spends time talking with the family member in a polite and fun way, that person is using the skills of

A. Fortitude and honesty.


B. Loyalty, friendship-building, and respectful talk?

11 Here are the rest of the psychological skills on our short list. Conservation is not wasting time, money, or the earth's resources. Self-care is looking after your health and safety. The skill of compliance is following rules and laws and obeying authorities like parents and teachers, unless you are asked to do something wrong or bad, in which case this skill involves deciding when not to obey. Positive fantasy rehearsal means that you use the principle that practicing things in your imagination makes it easier for you to do them in real life; thus this skill involves fantasy-rehearsing the other psychological skills. Courage means being able to do the best thing even when it's scary; it does not mean taking unnecessary risks.

If someone is trying to get over a fear of reading or speaking to a group of people, and the person practices by imagining a group of people present while speaking or reading, the person is using the skills of

A. Courage and positive fantasy rehearsal,


B. Conservation and friendship-building?

The family emotional climate

12 Lots of researchers have studied the question: what gives people the best chance of being mentally healthy? One answer they come to over and over is that people tend to do better when they have a "positive family emotional climate." This means that family members

Are kind and helpful to each other.

Cooperate with each other.

Speak respectfully to each other.

Can trust each other.

Know how to have fun with each other.

Enjoy spending time with one another.

Want the others to be happy and successful.

A summary of this text unit is that

A. People do better when the people in their family do the behaviors you expect from people who like each other a lot.


B. People do better in families where there are customs of eating healthy food, and not a lot of junk food.

13 Almost every behavior done by someone in a family when they are with other family members makes its own contribution to the family emotional climate, for better or for worse. The behaviors of insulting and yelling at family members, being too bossy and controlling, or hitting family members, tend to worsen the family emotional climate. The behaviors of helping and kind acts, and getting fun activities started that people can do together, tend to improve the emotional climate.

What's a summary of this text unit?

A. The more you practice a certain psychological skill in fantasy, the easier it is to do it.


B. Almost every behavior we do with other family members affects the family emotional climate one way or the other.

Having discussions

14 It's OK if you just want to do the reading and do the exercises in this program. But it may make it lots more fun if you can have discussions about the various topics. Here are some things you may want to say to each other about a certain topic.

Here's an example of this that I saw in life.

Here's an example of this I saw on TV or a movie or read about in a book.

Here's a problem I heard about that might be solved by people getting better at this.

Here's a question about this that I wonder about.

Here are some thoughts that this topic spurs in me.

Here's something else the author might have mentioned about this.

Here's how I may be able to use this idea.

Here's a bad situation that might have been prevented if someone had used this idea.

Someone in the family, particularly parents, may want to pose discussion questions for family members. For example,

What are your thoughts about that?

Have you seen anything in life, for example among people at school, that has anything to do with this?

Do you think this has anything to do with what goes on in our family?

Do you think this suggests any goals that we family members should work toward?

The author's purpose in this text unit is

A. To describe a certain way of listening, called reflections, that you can use when family members discuss things.


B. To mention some ways of responding to the topics of psychoeducation so that people can answer the question, "Any thoughts about this?" with something other than a shrug.

15 When people do discuss their thoughts, it's good for family members to listen, and to use several ways of listening that are discussed thoroughly in readings and practiced in exercises. Those ways are reflections (paraphrasing what you heard the person say, to make sure you understood), facilitations (words or phrases like uh huh, humh, yes, OK, I see, right, that let the person know you're tuned in), follow up questions (things like, could you tell me more about that, please?) and positive feedback (such as, that's a very interesting point you made). You want your responses to make it more likely for the family member to speak up again, rather than less likely.

A summary of this text unit is that

A. By being a good listener during discussions, you can help family members feel more comfortable about speaking up and contributing their ideas to the discussion.


B. If someone gets off the topic in a discussion, that's not a tragedy. The topic they introduce may be a good one to discuss.

The idea of psychological skills exercises

16 If someone wants to get more physically fit, almost everyone knows that they should do exercises. They might run, or do any of several movements with weights, or do bodyweight exercises such as push-ups and pull-ups and planks and squats, or ride an exercise bike, or play basketball games, or any of many, many other exercises.

But people don't as often realize that if people want to get mentally healthier, there are exercises they can do that will increase their mental health fitness. Part of the goal of this program is to teach these exercises. It's usually more fun for people to do these exercises together than to do them alone, and it's great if family members can do them together.

What's a summary of a point made in this text unit?

A. Just as there are exercises for physical fitness, there are exercises for mental fitness, which this program will try to teach.


B. Rather than saying "You're wrong about that," it's usually better to listen more to why the person thinks that way, or to say the idea you have instead.

17 There are mental fitness exercises (also known as psychological skills exercises) that give you practice in lots of different things. For some examples:

The divergent thinking exercise

gives practice in

thinking of a bunch of ideas in response to a question, not just one.

The brainstorming options exercise

gives practice in

thinking of a bunch of ideas of what to do when you have a decision to make.

The celebrations exercise

gives practice in

feeling good about the smart or good things you or someone else has done.

The reflections exercise

gives practice in

using a way of being a good listener.

The listening with four responses exercise

gives practice in

using four ways of being a good listener.

The 12 thought exercise

gives practice in

thinking about a situation in 12 different ways, so that you can be flexible enough to pick which way works best for the situation you're in.

The conflict resolution role play

gives practice in

talking about disagreements between people in ways likely to come to a peaceful and wise solution.

The purpose of this text unit was to

A. Make you an expert at 8 different exercises.


B. Give you an introductory feeling about what psychological skills exercises help you to practice.