What types of psychotherapy are used to treat bipolar disorder?

There are four types of psychotherapy commonly used to treat Bipolar Disorder. All of the therapies teach patients life skills such as finding a place to live, getting and keeping a job, and managing money. These therapies also teach strategies for managing the mood states that can interfere with these daily activities.
  • Family-focused therapy (FFT), which requires the participation and input of participants' family members and is focused on enhancing family coping with the illness, communication, and problem solving.
  • Psychoeducational psychotherapy (PEP), which teaches the patient and family members about the disorder, and skills to manage symptoms more effectively, including affect regulation, problem solving and communication.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which is focused on helping the person understand distortions in thinking and activity, and learn new ways of coping with the illness.
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), which is focused on helping the participant stabilise his or her daily routines and sleep/wake cycles, and solve key relationship problems.
A study has shown that those who undergo intensive psychotherapy, in addition to medication, report better life satisfaction and better relationship skills than those who received only brief therapy and medication.
Keith Star
Psychotherapy can help those with bipolar disorder to prevent relapse. A psychiatrist is best for prescribing medications.
Mona A. Schulz, MD
There are so many types of psychotherapy. The classic psychoanalysis popularized by Freud (think of the couch) is not frequently used with bipolar disorders these days, as the emphasis is now to teach people skills on how to:
  • Be aware of a mood.
  • Be able to name the mood, whether it's fear, anger, sadness, love, or joy. This sounds easy but it isn't always easy to do this.
  • Be able to identify what event caused their mood to shift.
  • Learn how to regulate mood shifts by understanding their inherent meaning and message.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT) are the most common and most effective forms of therapy for bipolar I and bipolar II. Specifically, DBT, originally used for the extreme mood swings of patients with trauma and personality disorders, is based on mindfulness techniques.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.