Family Counseling: Helping You Help A Loved One With BP






Bipolar disorder in kids is actually possible. It is frequently diagnosed in older kids and teens, but BP can present in children of all ages. As with adults, BP in children causes mood shift from euphoria or the stage of mania and to the lows of severe depression.

Rebellious conduct and emotional outbursts are typical of children and teens, and in most circumstances, these are not indications of a mental health illness that needs treatment. Of course, almost all children go through rough moments – it’s not uncommon to feel irritable, rebellious, sad, and angry sometimes. But if your child’s manifestations are constant, extreme, or are causing substantial problems, you should think that this is no longer a phase.

Below are some indications of bipolar disorder in kids:

  • Impulsive, hyperactive, violent, or socially improper conduct
  • Extreme mood swings that are not the same as their typical mood swings
  • The temperamental or depressive attitude most of the time or almost daily
  • Inflated or elaborate perception of their own abilities
  • Careless and precarious behavior that are usually not normal for the child, like having frequent sex with several partners, bizarre and unreasonable spending, drug or alcohol abuse
  • Suicidal ideations in older kids and teenagers
  • Insomnia or remarkably reduced need for sleep

Kids and teens with bipolar disorder have their symptoms in unique attacks. And in between these attacks, children go back to their typical mood and conduct. Remember that numerous other disorders in children may also lead to bipolar-like indications. These include oppositional defiant disorder, severe depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and anxiety disorders. Diagnosis can be perplexing, as these and the rest of the mental health disorders often happen in conjunction with BP.

Bipolar Treatment

An estimated 10 million Americans diagnosed with bipolar disorder, family members, and significant others are also impacted because they strive to deal with its debilitating effects on them. Numerous methods are being utilized to manage BP, including some psychotherapy and counseling forms and medication therapy. In addition, a certain bipolar treatment known as family-focused counseling or therapy has shown to be effective for many bipolar patients, assisting them in becoming better and decreasing the probability of relapses.


Initiated by two famous psychologists, this bipolar treatment, which is grounded on family dynamics principles, makes sense, taking into account that the main guardians of individuals, particularly children with BP, have a higher likelihood of developing depression than the general population. In addition, numerous studies have proven that family counseling benefits other family members in the psychotherapy treatment aside from the patient.

During the counseling sessions, the family and the patient are requested to come together and meet with a therapist or counselor experienced in managing BP with this particular form of psychotherapy. Among the objectives of FFT (family-focused therapy) is to strengthen family relationships and is often believed to encourage better outcomes.

How Family Counseling Helps

In a family counseling session, the counselor or therapist aims to educate the family members regarding bipolar disorder and associated problems, which include the fatigue that several family members and other guardians go through when supporting a loved one with BP. In addition, this psychotherapy method strives to provide families with more improved communication skills to lessen stress and work as harmoniously as possible to resolve problems, regardless of whether these problems are directly associated with bipolar disorder.

Family counseling sessions for BP should be able to educate participants on how to:

  • Utilize communication skills so that they can engage more efficiently and resolve disagreements with lesser negative emotions.
  • Recognize BP manifestations and determine indications of approaching attacks and relapses.
  • Take productive actions and steps whenever the patient seems to be experiencing substantial complications with the disorder.
  • Utilize problem-solving skills, which include management techniques particularly developed to help deal with BP.

The Efficacy Of FFT Or Family Counseling

Studies have revealed that this form of family counseling can significantly help patients avoid relapses and recuperating from bipolar attacks more rapidly than those who are not going through therapy or counseling interventions.

Family counseling has been more effective than some other types of psychotherapy, like group therapy or CBT, in preventing or reducing relapses, particularly when FFT begins following an acute bipolar attack.


Patients who present with predominant depressive BP symptoms have a higher likelihood of benefiting from FFT than individuals with mainly manic indications, who have shown to benefit more from cognitive behavioral therapy.

However, it is significant to note that whatever form of therapy is used to manage bipolar disorder can never cure the illness, as there has been no proven cure as of the present. Furthermore, even patients who have had successful treatment will continue to present with mood changes and longstanding indications of BP. Therefore, treatment and management will have to be continuous.

Family counseling, specifically family-focused therapy, could be the way to alleviate challenging family concerns and enhance the entire family’s capability to better deal with bipolar disorder.



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