What is Family-Focused Therapy?
Family-focused treatment (FFT) is a psycho-educational treatment for patients with bipolar disorder (BD) focused on alleviation of mood symptoms, relapse prevention and enhanced psychosocial functioning.
The protocol consists of three modules:
- Psychoeducation: the family learns about symptoms of bipolar disorder, develops coping skills to address symptoms and stressors, and develops a relapse prevention plan;
- Communication Enhancement Training: the family learns a range of skills to improve maladaptive communication patterns;
- Problem-Solving Skills: the therapist teaches specific skills to address problems that create conflict in the home.
The FFT treatment protocol includes session-by-session instructions for each of these modules, as well as supplements clinicians can use to address suicidality, anxiety disorders, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and behavioral problems. FFT has been adapted for use with adults and youth with bipolar disorder, as well as those who are at high risk for developing bipolar disorder, and is available in 21- and 12-session versions.
Research indicates that FFT can be used effectively with adults (Miklowitz, 2003a, 2003b; Rea et al. 2003), adolescents (Miklowitz, 2008), and high-risk youth (Miklowitz and Chang, 2008; 2010) and their families. Across 10 randomized controlled trials, use of FFT has been associated with reduced depressive symptoms, decreased risk of recurrence, and improved psychosocial functioning/quality of life. FFT is associated with reduced rates of re-hospitalization over two years, in part because patients and caregivers learn to identify and intervene with early signs of recurrence (Rea, 2003). Furthermore, inclusion of family members in FFT means that clinicians have the opportunity to provide skills to not only the BD patient, but also to other impacted family members who attend sessions; as such, FFT is a particularly cost-effective way to increase treatment access for multiple individuals within a family.
The next free FFT workshop will be held March 12 at 11:30am. Click on the Training Workshops below for more details.