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Psychoeducational treatment for school-aged children with bipolar disorder

  • MARY A. FRISTAD (a1)

Bipolar disorder (BPD) has received increasing attention from public and professional sources. Although pharmacologic treatments are considered the sine qua non in the treatment of youth with BPD, psychosocial interventions are critical to assist the child and family cope with symptoms that carry with them significant morbidity and mortality. Treatments developed to date are few in number; all are psychoeducationally based, using cognitive–behavioral and family systems interventions within a biopsychosocial framework. This paper reviews possible mediators of outcome, including caregiver concordance, children's social skills, hopelessness, and family stress. The author has developed two family-based psychoeducational interventions for the treatment of youth with BPD: multifamily psychoeducation groups (MFPG) and individual family psychoeducation (IFP). These treatments are both described and the results from a previously published randomized clinical trial (RCT) of MFPG are summarized. Then, new findings from an RCT of IFP are presented, along with preliminary pilot data from an expanded version of IFP. The paper concludes with recommendations for future research.This paper was supported by grants to the author from the National Institute of Mental Health (R01-MH61512) and the Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH-743074 and 734030).

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Mary A. Fristad, Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Ohio State University, 1670 Upham Drive Suite 460G, Columbus, OH 432101-1250; E-mail:
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