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Do I Need a Therapist?

Psychotherapy is part of the bipolar disorder treatment plan. Discover the types of therapy that work for bipolar disorder and what makes a good bipolar disorder therapist.

Discover the types of therapy that work for bipolar disorder and what makes a good bipolar disorder therapist.

Gold Standard for Treating Bipolar Disorder (part 18)

Psychotherapy can play an integral role in any bipolar disorder treatment plan. When considering therapy, it's important that you know the specific types of therapy that have been shown to have success in treating bipolar disorder. Unlike with depression, psychotherapy alone does not have a good track record in treating the illness, but as an addition to your medication and other comprehensive treatments, it can be invaluable.

What Kind of Therapy Works for Bipolar Disorder?

All therapy is not created equally, so it's important that you know the statistics on what has proven the most effective treatment for bipolar disorder. When you look for a therapist, you can ask if they have experience in one or more of the following therapies:

1. Individual or family psycho-educational therapy: This therapy educates the patient and his or her family members regarding the basics of bipolar disorder treatment and prevention. This is especially helpful as family members can often see the signs of a mood swing before the person with bipolar disorder is aware that it's starting.

2. Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy: This family therapy approach helps the patient and his or her family members communicate more effectively through conflict resolution and problem solving skills. It's thought that involving family members in therapy is often more effective than seeing a patient alone. This approach to therapy also emphasizes lifestyle management issues.

3. Cognitive therapy: This therapy helps a patient recognize and respond to the unreasonable, painful and often out-of-control bipolar disorder thoughts. When the patient experiences the thought, he or she is taught to realistically examine the thought and whether it's valid. The patient can then substitute the unreasonable thoughts with more realistic and reasonable thoughts.

What Should I Look for In a Bipolar Disorder Therapist?

Many therapists offer support and help to people with bipolar disorder. Simply being able to talk with a sympathetic listener can make a large difference in your mood and outlook on life. Knowing that there is a safe place for you to talk, cry, get angry and ultimately work together to manage the illness can be a comfort for many people with bipolar disorder.

Therapy can play an essential role in your bipolar disorder treatment plan. It can often feel like there is no one to talk to when you're sick. A therapist can often be there to help you deal with the emotions caused by bipolar disorder and then work with you to find ways to minimize mood swings.

Practicing lifestyle changes and watching for thoughts that can make the illness spiral out of control will help you mange the illness more successfully. When combined with medications and psychotherapy, your chances of truly reducing symptoms and leading a more stable life are increased significantly.

next: Do I Need to Go to the Hospital? (part 19)

APA Reference
Fast, J. (2009, February 13). Do I Need a Therapist?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-treatment/psychotherapy-for-bipolar-disorder-gsd

Last Updated: June 2, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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