Chapter 4. Psychosocial Interventions for Bipolar Disorder

  1. Mario Maj2,
  2. Hagop S. Akiskal3,
  3. Juan José López-Ibor4 and
  4. Norman Sartorius5
  1. Professor Mark S. Bauer

Published Online: 25 APR 2002

DOI: 10.1002/047084650X.ch4

Bipolar Disorder, Volume 5

Bipolar Disorder, Volume 5

How to Cite

Bauer, M. S. (2002) Psychosocial Interventions for Bipolar Disorder, in Bipolar Disorder, Volume 5 (eds M. Maj, H. S. Akiskal, J. J. López-Ibor and N. Sartorius), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/047084650X.ch4

Editor Information

  1. 2

    University of Naples, Italy

  2. 3

    University of California, San Diego, USA

  3. 4

    Complutense University of Madrid, Spain

  4. 5

    University of Geneva, Switzerland

Author Information

  1. Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Brown University Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, 830 Chalkstone Avenue, Providence, RI 02908–4799, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 APR 2002
  2. Published Print: 12 APR 2002

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471560371

Online ISBN: 9780470846506



  • bipolar disorder;
  • psychotherapy;
  • outcome;
  • evidence-based medicine;
  • process and outcome of care


Because somatotherapy for bipolar disorder has led to only modest improvements in outcome in general clinical practice, increasing attention has been paid to psychosocial interventions as adjuvants to standard medical model treatment. This chapter complements and extends other recent reviews of this area by (a) evaluating psychotherapy studies according to the evidence rating criteria of the US Agency for Health Care Policy and Research; (b) analyzing which outcome domains are impacted by which types of psychotherapy; (c) reviewing studies of care organization (contexts of care) for bipolar disorder, tracing the roots of this area from descriptions of lithium clinics in the early 1970s through the recent federally funded controlled trials; and (d) identifying a core agenda common across most psychosocial interventions.

The psychotherapy literature indicates that a broad array of modalities may be effective in improving clinical outcome, functional outcome, and disease management skills, with Class A studies supporting at least some couples/partners, cognitive-behavioral, family, and psychoeducational interventions. Controlled studies of context of care interventions are in their infancy, but are built on principles similar to those used in disease management programs for chronic medical illnesses.

Despite the diversity of psychosocial interventions, there is substantial convergent validity for the importance of a common agenda of a collaborative approach illness management that includes education about the illness, and identification of patient-specific symptom patterns, and development of action plans for response to relapse. A research agenda focusing on interventions that are sustainable in general clinical practice is of the highest priority.