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The Use of Family-Focused Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Family Focused Therapy for Bipolar

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterized by constant changes in moods, sleep patterns, and focus. These changes adversely affect a person’s relationship with others, productivity, and overall life.

Impact of Bipolar Disorder

Dealing with bipolar disorder can be an uphill task, especially if you have limited knowledge of the condition or are impatient. The impact of the condition affects not only the patient but also those around them. Here are the most common impacts of bipolar disorder:

Emotional turmoil

When a person sees a bipolar person breaking down, they get emotionally drained, especially for the first time. When a friend or spouse turns manic, you might be at a loss on how to deal with the condition. You might be worried about whether they could turn suicidal or violent in the next minute.

You might become insecure, lonely, and neglected during the mental breakdown since your emotions are shaken beyond your control. Most partners break down due to the emotional torture of manic or depressive symptoms.

Sacrificing productive time

When dealing with someone with bipolar, you spend a lot of time caring for their mental health, and you lose productive time. When the patient gets depressive or manic symptoms, you spend all your time attending to their infinite mental and physical needs. Additionally, you sacrifice time you could have spent on leisure and recovery.

Broken relationships

The unpredictability that comes with bipolar disorders becomes a stumbling block to relationships, whether platonic or romantic. A bipolar patient is less likely to commit to relationship and relationship goals, which strains the relationship and eventually breaks. A bipolar patient could change their mind about something they had agreed to earlier without any valid reason, shattering the hopes of the other party.


Stigmatization is a common setback to the lives of bipolar patients and those around them. A person dating a bipolar partner is stigmatized and accused of dealing with a mentally unstable person who could harm them anytime. In worst-case scenarios, people isolate themselves, making it hard for the person to cope with the challenge.

Stigmatization can also be meted on the patient by their partners or friends to win an argument. There are several instances where a partner yelled at their partner, calling them a nutcase, which triggered depressive symptoms in the patient.

Bipolar patients and partners or friends with bipolar people can use therapy to contain the severity of the symptoms. The most common approach to managing bipolar disorder is family-focused therapy.

What is family-focused therapy for bipolar disorder?

Family-focused therapy (FFT) is a form of bipolar disorder treatment administered to adults and children to manage the symptoms. The therapy is multi-dimensional, covering problem-solving skills, psychoeducation on bipolar disorder, and communication enhancement.

Throughout its 30 years of practice, family therapy for bipolar disorder has been giving effective results, making psychiatrists adopt it as part of the bipolar management plan.

Why Make Bipolar Disorder Treatment a Family Affair?

The treatment of bipolar disorder should be treated as a family affair since it affects the family members, both directly and indirectly. There are three approaches that can help families manage bipolar disorder effectively:

Relapse planning – This approach involves learning about warning signs of a relapse and preventive measures to take. Some planning measures involve learning about administering the right dose, emergency contacts, and stabilization approaches. Each patient responds differently during relapse, and as such, it is advisable to work closely with the psychiatrist for the correct administration of medication.

Skills Building – As a family, you should build the right skills to help you manage bipolar disorder effectively. Some of the most important skills include effective communication and effectively solving any issues arising from a mental breakdown.

Family Focused Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

Psychoeducation – It is important since it helps the family to understand bipolar better, all the symptoms, and management techniques.

Capabilities of Family-Focused Therapy for Bipolar

Most people now prefer FFT over conventional treatments for bipolar disorder due to its efficacy. Here are the capabilities of FFT which make it stand out:

Improves patient’s overall welfare

Using the FFT ensures that the patient’s welfare is well taken care of. A patient who uses this therapy is likely to stay and perform exemplary in school and the workplace.

Improves family relationships

More often than not, bipolar patients create disharmony in families and result to bad blood between the members. When patients are put under FFT, their overall relationship with the rest of the family improves significantly.

Reduces hospitalization

There had been a surge in hospitalization and administration of conventional medicine by greedy health facilities looking for quick profits. The discovery of FFT was a game changer since it reduced the number of hospitalizations and patients.

Pros and Cons of Family-Focused Therapy

There are several pros and cons of FFT for the management of the bipolar disorder.


  • It makes the family members work as a group to help the patient manage symptoms better.
  • It reduces the stigma associated with bipolar disorder.
  • It is affordable, and many people can access it.
  • It helps people understand bipolar disorder and mitigate the stigma associated with it.
Bipolar Family Therapy


  • Some family members might not be willing to help with the treatment.
  • The constant relapse may make the caregivers exhausted and unwilling to cooperate.
  • Some patients might isolate themselves from their families, making teamwork hard.

What to Expect from Family-Focused Therapy

The effectiveness of FFT is pegged on the cooperation of different stakeholders. When all family members work together, the FFT produces exemplary results within a short period. Similarly, if the family members understand bipolar disorder, they will likely treat the patient better.

FFT is not a quick fix, and all stakeholders should be patient with the slow but steady progress. It is also the patient’s responsibility to accept their condition and work towards improving themselves.

Bottom Line

Bipolar disorder is manageable, especially if you use effective strategies such as the FFT. Family members and the patient must be willing to work together for optimal results. If you are working on a tight budget, try FFT today, and you can manage bipolar disorder seamlessly.



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