CBT Therapy pilot

Dr Lizzie Tyler from the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health at Lancaster University has led a pilot study which has adapted recovery-focused CBT therapy for older people with bipolar disorder. Thirty-nine people took part in the study, with half receiving the therapy and the other half continuing their treatment as usual. The team are in the process of analysing the results and writing the study paper and hope to share this with you as soon as they can.

Janet took part in the study and received the recovery focused therapy. Here are some of her thoughts:

What is therapy for bipolar like?

After many years of struggle with bipolar, with lots of dark moments, shattered relationships etc, I recently set sail on a new journey of enlightenment in the hope of securing a better life, having never received any therapy before. I was lucky enough to be accepted onto a new ground breaking recovery focused cognitive behavioural therapy research programme (RfCBT), for older participants, through Lancaster University with Dr Elizabeth Tyler. Derived from CBT, the interesting difference with RfCBT, was that it firmly placed a focus on tailoring recovery to the needs of the individual through guided therapy sessions in the security and comfort of home. Lizzie was, and remained, my guide, confidante and therapist. Teaching psychological skills, Lizzie enabled me to take responsibility for recognising and lessening the impact of mania and depression particularly, to sustain a better mood balance and a more fulfilling life, even post therapy.

What I learned

The most important lesson I learned, was how a bespoke inclusive style therapy is far more effective than a generic approach to a participant by setting meaningful individual recovery goals.  Professionally, but with understanding and compassion, Lizzie helped me build my personalised strategy and I was able to understand clearly influences from my life and specific triggers for mood change. More importantly I learned the value of early intervention and what to do for myself if I was slipping into depression or mania (Ways of Coping). Post therapy, I am finding that dipping into my 'tool box' works very well to fix any problems with the support of my immediate family.

How CBT changed my life

I am proud that I have become my own therapist taking responsibility for ME, using the lessons drawn from therapy (my tool box).

I will admit when I started on the programme, I felt as though I was a 'divided soul'. Life had been a disappointment. I had been a disappointment to everyone and misunderstood. I was depressed, volatile, withdrawn and felt rejected.

It would be a mistake to believe that therapy has provided a panacea for a PERFECT future. The bipolar is still lurking, but it would appear since therapy, gone are the days of the never-ending cycle of superficial recovery followed by remission, which I feared. In brief, I know who I am now, feel more confident, rebuilding relationships and leading a more balanced and contented life.


Why is therapy important in later life?

It is unfortunately inevitable that as we get older our physical health may also deteriorate and combined with the heavy baggage of mental health issues, you can experience a double whammy. Retirement too and possibly becoming less receptive to modern life, may signal a decline for the mental health of normal older individuals. For someone with bipolar, it could mean an increased vicious circle of remission and recovery leading to lasting mental health difficulties. Like me, suffering in isolation from this very much misunderstood and difficult condition for a long time without any real resolution, does not mean it's too late to embrace a new approach. RfCBT therapy just might be the answer for you too! I am proof that a professional therapist can teach an 'old sea dog new tricks' for a better life filled with happiness.


Find out more about Spectrum Centre research