Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice - Early View Articles, Pages ${blockparams.parentJournalIssue.pageRange}

Individual experiences of psychological‐based interventions for bipolar disorder: A systematic review and thematic synthesis


To conduct a thematic synthesis to evaluate qualitative studies exploring individuals’ experiences of psychological‐based interventions for bipolar disorder (BD).


A systematic search of relevant databases (Web of Science, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, CINAHL) was conducted using predefined search terms related to ‘Bipolar’ ‘Qualitative method’, ‘Psychological‐based interventions’ and ‘Adults’. Studies meeting the inclusion criteria were selected and were then evaluated using established quality appraisal criteria. A thematic synthesis was used to synthesize the findings.


From the thematic synthesis, nine analytical themes were derived from the 10 identified research studies. These were helpful and unhelpful aspects of the intervention, increased knowledge of BD, mood recognition, control of moods, change of perspective, mood stability, empowerment, improved relationships and lifestyle changes.


Findings from the review suggest there were characteristics of psychological‐based interventions that individuals with BD valued and which helped facilitate areas of positive change, such as feeling empowered and in control of their moods and other aspects of their lives. However, there were also elements that individuals did not find as helpful and therefore reflects the challenge of a one‐size‐fits‐all model or plan of interventions, compared to a wider recognition of the individuals as being the agent of their recovery. Future qualitative research is needed to explore individual experiences across a range of psychological interventions, in order to further understand the therapeutic processes, which may facilitate recovery.

Practitioner points

  • Psychological‐based interventions for BD need to consider facilitating and measuring empowerment in individuals, rather than focusing just on mood stability.
  • Clinicians with expertise and knowledge in BD should provide timely information to individuals and their families to help increase their understanding of the diagnosis.

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