What Is Therapeutic Education?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2020
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Therapeutic education might help patients deal with chronic disease by teaching them skills to manage their condition and improve daily life. The term also describes alternative education programs for youth with behavioral problems who need a more structured educational plan. Correctional facilities might use therapeutic education to prepare inmates for release back into society and reduce the risk of recidivism.

In medical settings, this type of education begins with interviewing patients to find out how they deal with a particular disease. A team of doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals aim to determine patients’ needs and coping skills, including whether they follow prescribed medical advice. The team might ask patients what is difficult about their treatment plans and what works best.

The therapeutic education team teaches patients about their conditions to reduce fear and enable them to cope with daily living. Patients who participate in devising treatment plans might become more likely to follow through with medication, exercises, and recommended therapies. This approach might also help patients acknowledge and accept their medical conditions.

Treatment teams follow up with assessment to evaluate effectiveness of the plan. This part of the therapeutic education program might include individual or group counseling sessions. Families of patients typically participate in counseling to help them understand the difficulties of living with chronic illness. These programs commonly deal with patients suffering from heart disease, diabetes, skin disorders, asthma, and other illnesses.


Therapeutic education for behavioral problems might allow adolescents to continue their education in structured environments. Some of these students face suspension or expulsion from traditional schools because of violence, substance abuse, or failure to obey school authorities. These alternative education facilities commonly provide remedial courses to help troubled students complete school.

They might also offer classes to improve social skills, such as problem-solving techniques and anger-management methods. If alcohol or drug abuse exists, students could receive education in this area, along with communication tips. Therapeutic education at alternative schools usually prepares young people to enter the job market and live independently. Improving self-esteem, promoting teamwork, and personal responsibility represent common components of these education plans.

Some adult and juvenile correction centers use these methods to prepare prisoners for re-entry as their release date approaches. Vocational training might assist inmates in finding jobs upon release from custody. A team of experts typically evaluates inmates’ risk of re-offending and devises treatment plans. These plans might include behavior modification, counseling, substance abuse education, and regular academic courses.


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