Family Therapy

In the treatment of bipolar disorder, family therapy can be used to help limit the stress the disorder can cause not only to people who have the condition, but the loved ones who help them cope and otherwise are exposed to the symptoms of the condition.

Family therapy is one of several classes of psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, which is often used in the management of bipolar disorder.

Psychotherapy is commonly used in conjunction with other treatments, such as  medications, in order to help people with bipolar disorder manage their condition.

Though there are many forms of therapy, talk therapy generally helps the patients learn more about a relevant illness, clarify their knowledge of its effect on themselves and the people around them, and learn healthy ways to deal with the issue.

How Does Family Therapy Fit In

Bipolar disorder can not only strain the person who has the condition, but his or her family and friends as well.

Family therapy is designed to help loved ones cope with a broad spectrum of problems, including mental illness in a family member.

How Does Family Therapy Work

Family therapy not only focuses on the problems a family is facing, but how its members communicate, interact, and deal with things. The overall goals are to improve communication between the members, and identify and counter unhealthy interactions and coping mechanisms.

In the event that a family member has a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, there is an educational component of therapy which is aimed at helping the family members learn how to best help their loved one.

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Who Can Benefit from Family Therapy 

This therapy is focused on families and their particular issues.

Side Effects

Talk therapy does not have direct physical side effects, but will almost certainly involve discussing the patient's issues in front of at least one other person (the therapist) and possibly a number of other people. In the case of family therapy, this means the patient could very well be talking about very personal topics with relatives.


Psychotherapy is widely available through hospitals and private mental health practices.  Many employers offer therapy through their employee assistance programs.


An illness like bipolar disorder not only affects the person who has it, but their loved ones as well.

Family therapy can help a family dealing with bipolar disorder learn to better manage how they cope with the condition.

What The Expert Says

"Family therapy is an essential component which should be practiced in addition to medication and personal psychotherapy sessions,” Dr. Soroya Bacchus, a psychiatrist who practices in California, said. “By engaging family in the process, everyone becomes educated and aware of the situation and the likelihood of returning to a 'normal' dynamic in the family system is much higher.  This is obviously not applicable in every situation, but when possible it should always be incorporated as it has been shown to produce positive outcomes.”