There are may types of family therapy, however, only family focus therapy has been tested for use in the treatment of bipolar disorder. FFT is based on the fact that family education is a powerful addition to the successful treatment of people with bipolar disorder.
Focusing treatment on the family makes sense for your child because he or she depends on the rest of the family for his or her well being. More over, bipolar disorder runs in families, and medications can be difficult to dispense safely if your child is living in a chaotic family environment.
Family treatment is needed because negative family interactions often results in poor treatment response and worsening of the disorder. In fact, several studies have found that people with bipolar disorder who lives with relatives and experience high high levels of criticism, hostility, and/or hostile in face to face verbal interactions do worse than those who live with relatives who have less critical or negative interaction styles.
The overall of FFT are to help children and their relatives come to a mutual understanding of the most recent mood disorder episode, accept the dicl’s propensity to develop more manic or depressive episodes, understand the child’s need for a lifelong treatment with mood and behaviours from bipolar and other psychiatric disorders, recognize and cope with stresses that trigger episodes, and restore functional family relationships after the episode.
The treatment with FFT includes three components; educations, communications, and problem solving. The educational component of this therapy is extensive. It includes information for families about the nature, symptoms, course, and treatment of bipolar disorder.
It addresses detection of early symptoms, relapse prevention strategies, coping skills, and strategies for handling the social impact of the bipolar diagnostic label. The family also learns intervention techniques for times when the signs of the disorder appear.
Parents and their children are educated about the rapid changes in normal emotional, cognitive, and social development and how to differentiate between what is bipolar disorder and what is normal childhood/teen behaviour.
Emphasis is placed on maintaining good sleep routines because sleep loss and irregular sleep wake schedules may trigger mania in people with bipolar disorder. Discussion also focuses on preventing behaviours that can threaten the child’s health of others, including unsafe sex, substance and alcohol abuse, drunk driving, aggressiveness, and suicidal tendencies.
FFT also provides educational information about coexisting disorders and how they are different from bipolar disorder. It draws comparisons between managing bipolar disorder versus behavioral disorders. And it teaches anxiety management techniques, such as relaxation exercises. The educational component includes a strong focus on the safe and effective use of medication and the consequences of discontinuing treatment.
When parents and siblings themselves have psychiatric disorders, they are encouraged to share with the child their past or present problems and how they learned to cope with these problems. The second and third components, communication and problem- solving training, teach the child with bipolar disorder and family members coping strategies for dealing with illness-related conflicts. Families are taught how to communicate more positively and efficiently.
Hostile communication patterns are changed through active, role-playing exercises that teach families to listen actively to each-other, offer more positive feedback, more positive requests for changes in others’ behaviors, and avoid negative feedback.
These skills foster a feeling of collaboration among members of a family, encourage an open dialogue about difficult problem topics, and help develop skills for solving family problems. Solution-finding exercises are designed to promote healthy independence by giving the adolescent a greater role in his or her medication regime.
Finally, help is always also offered to parents because whether or not they have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder, many parents have trouble raising a child with bipolar disorder due to their own emotional instabilities.