The authors of this paper do not have any commercial associations that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with this manuscript.
Family-focused treatment of the suicidal bipolar patient
Article first published online: 17 OCT 2006
Volume 8, Issue 5p2, pages 640–651, October 2006
How to Cite
Miklowitz, D. J. and Taylor, D. O. (2006), Family-focused treatment of the suicidal bipolar patient. Bipolar Disorders, 8: 640–651. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-5618.2006.00320.x
- Issue published online: 17 OCT 2006
- Article first published online: 17 OCT 2006
- Received 24 April 2005, revised and accepted for publication 13 January 2006
- bipolar disorder;
- expressed emotion;
- family-focused therapy;
- psychosocial treatment;
Objectives: Bipolar patients are at high risk for suicidal ideation and attempts. Suicidal behavior is correlated with poor family communication and/or high levels of intrafamilial conflict, particularly among adolescent bipolar patients. This article describes the application of family-focused therapy (FFT) as an adjunct to pharmacotherapy in the management of suicidal ideation and behavior among bipolar patients.
Methods: We describe the empirical basis of FFT in studies of adult and adolescent patients. We then describe the manner by which the three modules of FFT – psychoeducation, communication skills training and problem solving – are adapted to address the clinical issues presented by suicidal bipolar adults or adolescents and their families.
Results: Key objectives of the treatment are to help the family recognize that suicidal behavior is a part of the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder but that it is also to some extent under environmental control. Thus, the family is in a unique position to develop and help assure the success of a suicide prevention contract. A case study of an adolescent with suicidal behavior is presented.
Conclusions: Future research should include a focus on: (i) cross-cultural issues in suicide and bipolar disorder; and (ii) the adaptation of interventions shown to be effective in reducing suicidal behaviors in non-bipolar populations.