Our treatment approach is based on an understanding of bipolar disorder as a life-long, chronic illness with unpredictable relapses and remissions. In this way, it is similar to cardio-vascular disease or diabetes. And just as these illnesses are often openly discussed with close others, we believe that the treatment of bipolar disorder should include family members and loved ones who want to participate.
From decades of combined experience in treating bipolar disorder, we have observed that when willing families are excluded from treatment there can be unnecessary pain, frustration, isolation and misunderstanding. The primary caregivers, demoralized, may themselves suffer from a variety of psychiatric symptoms resulting from stress. Children may feel confused and scared. All of these factors make the involvement of family and loved ones a necessary part of the treatments that we offer.
For more information, or to schedule an evaluation at the Family Center, please contact Latavia Love at (212) 420-2302 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Family Center offers a variety of services aimed at treating bipolar disorder and providing family support. Follow the links below to learn more about each one:
Family Inclusive Therapy
Individual and Family Therapy
PACT - Practical Accelerated Couple's Therapy
The Family Center for Bipolar offers evaluations that are conducted by a team of specialists for either a diagnosis or a second opinion on treatment.
- If you think that you, or someone you know, has Bipolar Disorder, you can set up an evaluation to determine the correct diagnosis.
- If you, or someone you know, has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder but the treatment does not seem effective, an evaluation at the Family Center can offer a second opinion on both the diagnosis and treatment.
What to expect from an evaluation:
- FCB evaluations take two sessions to complete, with each session lasting up to one hour.
- The evaluation team may include a psychopharmacologist, family therapist, addiction psychiatrist, and/or child adolescent psychiatrist as needed.
- We ask that all our clients bring a treatment partner of their choosing to the evaluation. The treatment partner can be a parent, sibling, spouse and/or friend who knows the client well and is able to add an additional perspective to the evaluating team.
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Family Inclusive Therapy
At the Family Center, if you have bipolar disorder the first step is the evaluation.
After you complete your evaluation and a diagnosis of bipolar disorder has been established or confirmed, you will select one or more treatment partners and begin your treatment. FIT is a unique program that is specifically tailored to the needs of each family that we treat. Depending on your specific situation, FIT treatment may include any number of elements, such as individual psychotherapy, family therapy, couple's therapy, and/or supportive therapy for your child(ren).
Throughout the course of your treatment, this is what you and your loved ones can expect:
- Open communication about symptoms, medication and other aspects of treatment. (Confidentiality still applies to personal issues not related to the illness.)
- Weekly or biweekly doctor visits by the patient for both medication management and supportive therapy.
- Family sessions geared to educate the patient and treatment partners about bipolar illness and its treatment; how to recognize symptoms, identify triggers and warning signs; and how to communicate openly about them.
- Periodical assessment of your treatment partner(s) and/or children to ensure that all family members are handling the sometimes unavoidable stress in a healthy and balanced way.
- Family Therapy or Couple's Therapy for issues that go beyond the immediate matters of how to deal with bipolar illness.
- Special attention to helping children understand how bipolar illness can temporarily change the way a parent acts. In addition, counseling will be available for the non-bipolar parent on how to protect children from the potentially damaging consequences of a bipolar parent whose illness is not always under control.
- Referrals of children and adolescents with early signs of bipolar disorder for evaluation and treatment with a Family Center child and adolescent specialist.
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Patients in an acute phase of the illness can be hospitalized in a general psychiatric unit at Beth Israel Medical Center.
Although the psychiatric inpatient units at Beth Israel are not exclusive to Family Center patients, clients of the Family Center will be continuously monitored by one of the Center's Bipolar Specialists during their stay in the hospital.
The Bipolar Specialist will be an integral part of the patient's treatment team which will also include an attending Beth Israel psychiatrist, a resident psychiatrist, a social worker, an occupational therapist, a psychologist and a nurse. The Bipolar Specialist assigned to the case will help to inform the patient's treatment plan, maintain close contact with the patient's family during his/her hospitalization, and facilitate the transition from inpatient to outpatient treatment after discharge.
Patients from the Family Center receive inpatient treatment that is unique in three ways:
- In the spirit of the Center, from the outset the patients’ treatment is designed and conducted in close communication with patients’ families. While the exact nature of doctor-family interaction is determined on an individual basis, a family representative is always informed of medication changes and is in frequent contact with the treatment team.
- The psychopharmacological treatment of acute mania is conducted according to the method developed and used for many years by Dr. Igor Galynker, the Center's director. This intensive treatment targets not only patients’ psychiatric symptoms but also focuses on their arousal. This approach results in quicker treatment response, fewer relapses, and fewer re-admissions after discharge and is being examined in clinical trials.
- Treatment by the inpatient team is conducted in collaboration with one of the Center psychiatrists who while caring for the patient who is hospitalized also supports members of the family through frequent discourse. At discharge the Center psychiatrist facilitates transition to outpatient treatment at the Family Center and Family Inclusive Treatment is implemented thus ensuring continuity of care.
There are three inpatient units at Beth Israel, each with a different profile. The Psychiatry Department publishes a full description of the three units here. Briefly, the three units are divided as follows:
- The General Psychiatric Unit offers treatment for adolescents and adults ages 14-64.
- The Adult and Geropsychiatry Unit offers treatment primarily for adults ages 65 and older.
- The Addiction Psychiatry Unit offers treatment primarily to those suffering from a concurrent addiction and a psychiatric illness.
Depending on the patient’s age and the nature of the acute episode, he/she will be admitted to the appropriate unit and the treatment will be tailored accordingly.
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