Colorado Family Project

group photo1The Colorado Family Project, based at the University of Colorado Boulder, is a joint project of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center in Denver and the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado Boulder. The Colorado Family Project comprises clinicians and researchers who specialize in working with children with or at risk for bipolar disorder (extreme high and low moods).

We work with children ages 9 to 17 years old, along with their family members. For families who participate in our research study, we provide a thorough diagnostic evaluation, family-based therapy, and when relevant, medication management from a psychiatrist. There is no cost for participating families.

Previous studies conducted by the Colorado Family Project have shown that Family-Focused Therapy is effective in stabilizing the symptoms of bipolar disorder in adults and adolescents when combined with medication treatment. Such benefits may also extend to children and adolescents at risk of developing bipolar disorder, a question we hope to clarify through our current research study.

Our Current Study: Early Intervention for Youth at Risk for Bipolar Disorder
The Colorado Family Project is currently recruiting participants for a study of children at risk for bipolar disorder. Eligible families will have a biological parent with bipolar disorder and a child or teen (age 9-17) with mood swings or significant sadness.

Participating families will receive a thorough diagnostic evaluation, family-based therapy, and, when relevant, medication management from a psychiatrist. There is no charge for participating in this research program. In addition to therapy, participants take part in regular research interviews and fill out questionnaires about their individual and family functioning. The family receives compensation for each research interview. Participation in the study lasts up to four years, but the majority of the time commitment is in the first four months.

To qualify:

  1. The child must have a first degree relative (mother or father) OR a second degree relative (e.g. grandparent, aunt, or uncle) with bipolar disorder.
  2. The child must be between the ages of 9 – 17 years old.
  3. The child must be exhibiting symptoms of depression or impairing mood swings.
  4. The child does not have a developmental disability and is not currently dependent on drugs or alcohol.

If you have any questions or if you think your family may be a good candidate for the study, please contact us for more information, 303-492-1668.

About the Funding
This study is part of a multi-site research project funded by the National Institute of Mental Health through a grant to Professor David J. Miklowitz, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine and Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at University of Colorado, Boulder. The project is dedicated to finding the most efficacious and cost-effective approaches for preventing, delaying, and/or treating the symptoms of bipolar disorder. The project is being conducted at the University of Colorado, University of California Los Angeles, and Stanford University.



The Colorado Family Project includes several individuals at University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital Colorado who have interest and expertise in childhood bipolar disorder and related conditions.

Dr. Christopher SchneckDr. Christopher Schneck – Principal Investigator, Psychiatrist
Dr. Christopher Schneck, MD, received his undergraduate degree from Stanford University, his medical degree from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and completed his residency at Yale University. Dr. Schneck is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine where he treats patients, conducts research, and teaches medical students and residents. Dr. Schneck’s primary area of interest and research is in bipolar disorder, with a particular emphasis on rapid cycling bipolar disorder and adolescent bipolar disorder.

Addie BortzAdeline Bortz - Research Assistant

Adeline has been a research assistant for the Colorado Family Project since September of 2014.  She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience in May of 2015. She has aspirations to work in a clinical capacity with children and adolescents, particularly within the context of mood disorders and preventative treatments. 





Emily Carol, M.A

Emily Carol, M.A., is an advanced doctoral student pursing a dual Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder.  She has been working with the Colorado Family Project since 2014.  Emily’s training has included work in outpatient clinical settings, with teenage and adult patients with mood and anxiety disorders, as well as teenagers at risk for psychosis.  Her research interests focus on the roll of stress in early identification and intervention of psychotic disorders.



JasmineFayeghiJasmine Fayeghi, M.A.

Jasmine Fayeghi, M.A. is a student at The University of Denver pursuing her Doctorate in Psychology. Jasmine is in her fourth year of her doctoral training, and her clinical interests include working with children, adolescents and families struggling with severe mental illness. Jasmine is committed to providing hope and healing to the families she works with. She finds work with children to be dynamic, challenging and exciting! Her graduate training includes working in inpatient and outpatient settings conducting individual, family and group therapy, as well as cognitive and personality assessment. Jasmine is very excited to be apart of the Colorado Family Project team!

Anna FryeAnna Frye - Study/Intake Coordinator
Anna has been working with Colorado Family Project since 2012. She earned her bachelor's degree from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research interests include the treatment of bipolar disorder as well as the role of biological and genetic factors in the expression of mood disorders.






CFP Leopold Cropped

Daniel Leopold, M.A.

Daniel Leopold, M.A., is an advanced doctoral student pursuing a dual Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. Prior to working with the Colorado Family Project, Daniel's training has focused on working with children and adolescents with significant learning, attentional, and behavioral needs, as well as teenagers at risk for psychosis. His research centers on the co-occurence of dyslexia, ADHD, and math disability and the various cognitive and neuroanatomical features that explain this overlap, with particular interest in the developmental role of the cerebellum.





Ryan Moroze, M.D.

Ryan Moroze, M.D. is a second year child & adolescent psychiatry fellow at the University of Colorado. He has a Bachelor of Science in biology from Regis University and completed medical school at the University of Colorado before completing his internship at Duke University and his general psychiatry residency at the University of Colorado. He is especially interested in the prevention and treatment of bipolar disorder and psychosis in children, adolescents, and adults.




Iza Ripoll web

Izaskun Ripoll - Research Assistant
Izaskun Ripoll M.D. joined the Colorado Family Project in spring of 2014. She received her medical degree from Universidad Complutense of Madrid (Spain) and trained as a family practitioner. She has been working as a professional research assistant for the University of Colorado Depression Center since 2013 on projects related to mood and anxiety disorders.






Rochelle Rofrano crop Rochelle Rofrano - Research Assistant

Rochelle has been with the Colorado Family Project since January 2014. She received her bachelor’s degree from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Rochelle is interested in the role of genetic and environmental variables involved in treatment, prevention and course of mood disorders.

20140924 Aimee Sullivan 67-Edit small

Dr. Aimee Sullivan - Study Psychologist, Research Associate
Aimee Sullivan, Ph.D., has worked with the Colorado Family Project since 2007. She recently earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, following completion of a clinical internship at UCLA. Her training has included work in inpatient and outpatient clinical settings, with child and teenage patients with mood, anxiety, and behavioral disorders, as well as developmental disabilities. Her research interests have focused on the role of family functioning in adolescent bipolar disorder.

Dr. Dawn Taylor

Dr. Dawn Taylor – Lead Psychologist
Dr. Dawn Taylor, a licensed psychologist, received her PhD from Ohio State University in 1979. She has contributed over 20 years to research on bipolar disorder in adults and adolescents. Dawn is a member of the research faculty of the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder and has a private practice in Boulder.






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 ColoradoFamilyProject Winter 2016 Newsletter 2 Page 1

ColoradoFamilyProject Winter 2016 Newsletter 2 Page 2


What is pediatric bipolar disorder?
Children with bipolar disorder have severe mood swings, from very high and energized (manic) to very low, unmotivated, and lethargic (depressed). High periods may last only a day or two, but for some, the episodes last a month or more. Low periods usually last longer than high periods.

How common is pediatric bipolar disorder?
About 1 in every 50 children in the United States has some form of bipolar disorder. It most often affects a person for the first time in adolescence or young adulthood.

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder in childhood?
Some kids become overly happy and excited or giddy or overly irritable and angry. They may feel like they can do things that no one else can do (grandiosity). They may sleep less than usual or not at all, do many things at once, have more energy, talk faster and express many ideas (some realistic and some unrealistic), and be easily distracted. They may do things that are impulsive when manic, like spend a great deal of money unwisely or drive recklessly.

Kids may experience the symptoms of depression at other times, which can include feeling very sad, down, irritable, or anxious, losing interest in people or things, sleeping too much or being unable to sleep, having little or no appetite, having trouble concentrating or making decisions, feeling fatigued or low in energy, moving or talking slowly, feeling very bad or guilty about themselves, or contemplating suicide or actually carrying out suicide attempts.

Many children with bipolar illness have “mixed” symptoms, in which they feel manic and depressed at the same time. They may feel (or act) irritable, sped up, “tired but wired,” and unable to sleep; at the same time they may feel worthless, have suicidal thoughts, or may lose interest in everything. Some children alternate rapidly between these different extremes of mood. Diagnosis can be challenging, and often requires extended periods of observation to confirm.

How does bipolar disorder affect the family?
Bipolar disorder affects the child’s ability to relate to others in the family or in the school setting, especially when ill. Most commonly, parents and siblings of the bipolar child complain about the child or teen’s irritability, stubbornness, and impulsive outbursts of rage. Some families complain of a “toxic” atmosphere in the household when their child’s mood is cycling. Your family problems may be most apparent during or just after your child or teen’s episode of mania or depression, but then may improve as he or she gets better. The therapy offered through Colorado Family Project involves teaching families how to resolve family conflicts through good communication and problem solving.

What causes bipolar disorder?
Having bipolar disorder means that the child has dysregulations in the emotional regulation “circuitry” of the brain, especially the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. Children often inherit these dysregulations from parents or grandparents, even though these relatives may not have the disorder themselves. Children with bipolar disorder are also be affected by life stress or sudden changes in sleep–wake habits

What kind of treatment is offered through Colorado Family Project?
Children and families who are interested in participating in our research get a diagnostic evaluation first. This usually means two sessions with a psychologist and one with a psychiatrist. After these sessions, we can determine if the family is eligible for our research study. If not, we will provide a set of referrals for outside care.

Eligible families will be assigned randomly (like flipping a coin) to receive: 12 sessions of family therapy; or 3 sessions of family therapy plus 3 individual sessions for the child. Both treatments focus on helping children and their family members to understand and cope with mood swings, develop plans for preventing moods from getting worse, communicate more effectively, and solve family problems.

A participating child may be offered medication treatment if he or she is not already taking medications. The decision to do so is determined by the clinical needs of the child in consultation with his or her parents. Taking medications is not required to participate in the study.

What does the future hold for children with bipolar disorder?
Many children with bipolar disorder have recurrences of mood disorder throughout their lifetimes, but there is every reason to be hopeful. With the help of a regular program of medication, therapy, and support from others, mood disorder episodes become less frequent and less extreme. Our hope is that Colorado Family Project will significantly advance our knowledge of effective diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of serious mood disorders in children and adolescents.




Colorado Family Project scheduling and information line: 303-492-1668
Primary Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Christopher Schneck, Principal Investigator: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We work with families in two locations: Boulder and Aurora.

Our location in Boulder:
Colorado Family Project at University of Colorado Boulder is housed in a building called Center for Innovation and Creativity, or CINC, at 1777 Exposition Drive in Boulder.

From Denver, take 36W to Arapahoe Ave, then turn right. Head east on Arapahoe Avenue until you reach 38th St. Turn left at 38th. Then take an immediate left onto Exposition Drive, and drive 2 blocks. CINC will be on your left, and parking at the building is free. Once inside, follow the Colorado Family Project signs up the staircase to your left and then into the clinic lobby in Suite 217.

Our location in Aurora:
Colorado Family Project sees families at The University of Colorado Depression Center, at 13199 E. Montview Blvd, Suite 330, Aurora 80045.

From I-225:

  • Exit on 17th Place heading west.
  • Turn right on Fitzsimmons Parkway.
  • Follow Fitzsimmons Parkway north until you reach East Montview Boulevard – turn left.
  • Turn right onto Victor Street (just after the police headquarters)
  • Make a left into the UPI building parking structure
  • Park in one of the visitor parking spots and exit the parking structure on the southwest side. (any spot is okay including the “eco-friendly” ones, just not the reserved)
  • Enter the main building and take the elevator to floor #3


From downtown Denver:

  • Take Colfax Avenue east to Peoria Street– turn left onto Peoria (north).
  • Follow Peoria Street to East Montview Boulevard and turn right.
  • Follow East Montview Boulevard to Victor Street.
  • Turn left onto Victor Street (just after the UPI building where we are located)
  • Make a left into the UPI building parking structure
  • Park in one of the visitor parking spots and exit the parking structure on the southwest side. (any spot is okay including the “eco-friendly” ones, just not the reserved)
  • Enter the main building and take the elevator to floor #3




Fall Fundraising Luncheon

T    The Johnson Depression Center’s Sixth Annual Luncheon is just around the corner. On Friday, October 7, 2016, join us at the Seawell Grand Ballroom to hear 5 time Super Bowl Champion Charles Haley speak on his diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Many thanks to all of our sponsors.

Read More

In the News

Depression Center Medical Director Christopher Schneck discusses his family-centered bipolar research: Read More

Dr. Schneck discusses overlooked signs of Depression: Read More

Dr. Adria Pearson (Depression Center Psychologist) discusses PTSD in the wake of the recent floods: Read More

Dr. Pearson discusses PTSD related to Colorado flooding: Read More


Depression Center

It all started with George..

It all started with George..
It all started with George..
Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation
Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation

Depression Center
Depression Center
2015 Annual Luncheon Video
2015 Annual Luncheon Video