Which Type of Therapy Is Best For Treating Bipolar Disorder?

June 11, 2013 Alexa Poe

How does a person know which type of bipolar disorder therapy will work best for him or her? As a psychology student, I learned about the different types of therapy available to patients with various mental illnesses. I learned about their history, how they were developed and their classifications. As a patient with bipolar II and obsessive-compulsive disorder though, my therapists never explained what specific type of therapy they practiced and why one type of therapy might work better than another for me (Types of Bipolar Therapy and How Bipolar Therapy Helps).

Common Types of Therapy for Bipolar Disorder

In addition to bipolar medication, I've found that a combination of different therapies has been most effective for me. My therapists and I have worked with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), as well as interpersonal therapy (IPT).

Which types of therapy work best for treating bipolar disorder? And how do you know which type of bipolar disorder therapy is best for you? Find out here.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one of the most popular forms of therapy in the treatment of bipolar disorder. It focuses on one's beliefs and thoughts, and how these influence actions and behaviors. In the treatment of bipolar disorder, CBT is incredibly helpful in identifying “triggers” and bipolar symptoms, and it can greatly help when keeping track of one's moods and identifying patterns.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) was originally developed to help those with suicidal thoughts and actions and is now commonly used in the treatment of borderline personality disorder. DBT helps one develop new coping strategies, namely opposing thoughts, in order to create a balance in disordered thinking. In DBT, one learns how to identify and regulate emotions in a non-judgmental way and how to apply opposite action when in distress. For example, when anxious about going out into a social setting, DBT encourages a person to go ahead and dive into that social setting.

Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is most often used in the treatment of major depression one-on-one basis with a therapist. IPT focuses on developing communication skills in order to effectively express one's thoughts and feelings.

Family-Focused Therapy (FFT) is used in the treatment of bipolar disorder and includes, as the name implies, the family of the patient. It is believed that by including family members, treatment of the disorder will be much more well-rounded, and loved ones will be able to work with and identify troubling conflicts at home (Supporting Someone With Bipolar: For Family And Friends).

There are many other types of therapies, such as art and expressive therapy, light therapy, animal-assisted therapy and psychodynamic therapy, the latter of which was introduced by Sigmund Freud.

Which Type of Therapy Is Right For You?

Each of these therapies are highly beneficial in their own ways, but they are even more effective when combined. Bipolar symptoms don't operate in a vacuum. They affect the way we deal with emotions and events, how we communicate, and, of course, our relationships with others. That's why combining aspects of each therapy may be helpful to you.

In closing, it's important to find out which types of therapy for bipolar disorder your current or future therapist is trained in, what they feel is best for you at the present time and why (Creating A Healthy Patient-Therapist Relationship). Focusing on these issues is key to your mental health recovery efforts.

What types of therapy do you have experience with, and what has worked best for you?

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APA Reference
Poe, A. (2013, June 11). Which Type of Therapy Is Best For Treating Bipolar Disorder?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Alexa Poe

Kristine Thompson
June, 24 2013 at 7:36 am

I have found a therapist I have worked with for many years who I see when distressed. She helps remind me of what I have accomplished in therapy and I think this effective in keeping my mood stable.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alexa Poe
June, 24 2013 at 3:14 pm

I agree! It's so good that you've found a therapist who you feel comfortable with. That's so difficult for some people, and it took me quite a while to find one, too. I hope you're well!
-- Alexa

June, 21 2013 at 5:53 am

ihave been taking meds sinc i was in second grade till in treatments a lot better thy have finally found a cotaill tha seems to work and sevarl visits to the mental hospital later i had a roomate that was getting eletrol shock also had a person in group that had shock treatment thank goodness i never had to go that far am glad treatment has improved

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alexa Poe
June, 21 2013 at 8:33 am

Thank you for sharing! I'm very glad that you have found medications that work for you, and yes, finally, our treatment options have gotten much, much better! I hope you and your previous roommate are doing well!
-- Alexa

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