Results of new research on the effectiveness of psychotherapy for those who suffer with bipolar disorderbipolar disorder can benefit from intensive psychotherapy. were released recently. The evidence appears favorable that those with

The study was part of the National Institute of Mental Health-funded Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder, also known as STEP-BD. The participants were divided into two groups. One group received intensive psychotherapy in addition to their regular medication. The group of individuals with bipolar disorder received only their regular prescription medications.

Overwhelmingly, those who received this combined treatment for their bipolar disorder reported that they experienced a greater level of life satisfaction and even possessed better relationships than those who received only the medication.

While relationship and life skills improved, the researchers, led by David Miklowitz of the University of Colorado, reported that these same individuals with bipolar experienced no improvement in their vocational skills.

Dr. Miklowitz and his colleagues provided those participants with bipolar disorder with three kinds of psychotherapy. The first, called family-focused therapy required not only the participation of the individual with bipolar disorder, but also the input of other family members. This therapy concentrated on enhancing the coping skills of the entire family with regard to bipolar disorder as well as with improved communication and problem-solving skills.

The second type of psychotherapy provided through this research was cognitive behavioral therapy. This focused on helping the person with bipolar disorder understand the distortions in thinking and activity which accompany the illness. This form of therapy also provided the person with bipolar disorder new ways to cope with his illness.

And finally, the third form of therapy administered to the participants of the study was interpersonal and social rhythm therapy. This emphasized the need those with bipolar disorder to have daily routines, regular sleep and wake cycles as well as helping these individuals solve key relationship problems.

All three of these therapies incorporated methods to overcome the life challenges faced by the individual with bipolar disorder, such as finding a place to live, finding a satisfying job and improving personal finances. Moreover, those in the study with bipolar disorder were taught better management skills for managing their mood swings.