It’s a good question and one that Zaretsky and colleagues decided to research by reviewing the previously published studies in two of the largest research databases, MEDLINE and PsycINFO. How do non-medication treatments fare in bipolar disorder? Based upon their systematic review, they found:
Although psychological models of bipolar disorder fail to inform the psychotherapy treatment to the same extent as in unipolar depression, manualized adjunctive, short-term psychotherapies have been shown to offer fairly consistent benefits to bipolar disorder patients. Cognitive-behavioural therapy, family-focused therapy, and psychoeducation offer the most robust efficacy in regard to relapse prevention, while interpersonal therapy and cognitive-behavioural therapy may offer more benefit in treating residual depressive symptoms.
So basically the upshot is that the type of psychotherapy offered isn’t all that important (although interpersonal therapy didn’t do as well), and that the most common types of psychotherapies available offer an added benefit to people who are grappling with bipolar disorder.
Source: Zaretsky AE, Rizvi S, & Parikh SV. (2007). How well do psychosocial interventions work in bipolar disorder? Can J Psychiatry, Jan;52(1):14-21.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Jun 2007
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Grohol, J. (2007). How Well do Psychosocial Interventions Work in Bipolar?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 12, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/06/18/how-well-do-psychosocial-interventions-work-in-bipolar/