Sailing together – A healthcare provider’s guide to using the Bipolar Wellness Centre

on August 18, 2015

Healthcare providers working with individuals with bipolar disorder can benefit from using CREST.BD’s Bipolar Wellness Centre in a number of ways. This can be done independently by the healthcare provider in order to increase their familiarity with current, evidence-based, psychosocial interventions, or in collaboration with their client to assist in case formulation and to provide clients with self-management strategies and resources. The Bipolar Wellness Centre is structured around 14 quality of life domains understood from both the literature and qualitative research to be particularly important to individuals with bipolar disorder (Michalak, Yatham, Kolesar, & Lam, 2006; Michalak & Murray, 2010). The website is geared towards improving wellness in each of these life areas (e.g. Mood, Sleep, Relationships, etc.), with each domain-specific page explaining the importance of that life area to individuals with bipolar disorder and providing relevant, evidence-informed, self-management strategies. Ideally, the Bipolar Wellness Centre is used in conjunction with CREST.BD’s online Quality of Life (QoL) Tool, which provides clients with a visual representation of their quality of life in each of these domains, as well as the option to track their status over time.

For healthcare providers who are less experienced in working with individuals with bipolar disorder, the information provided in the Bipolar Wellness Centre includes some core elements of best-practice, evidence-based, psychosocial interventions, including Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT), Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for bipolar disorder, and Family Focused Therapy (FFT), framed in wellness terms. The strategies detailed on the website may be implemented by a healthcare provider using generic counselling skills. Indeed, many of these strategies will be familiar to healthcare providers who practice cognitive behavioural therapy, including behavioural activation, sleep hygiene, and mood monitoring. In addition, a tailored, clinician-focused section of the website provides links to treatment manuals and literature for each of the domains in order to increase familiarity and skill in applying such interventions.

The Bipolar Wellness Centre also serves as a credible resource for healthcare providers to recommend to their clients with bipolar disorder. Healthcare providers can feel confident that the website presents an optimistic tone for their clients, as the site is framed in positive, empowering and recovery-focused language. The website is designed for ease of access, with a user-friendly format. Information is provided in a variety of modalities, including text, with an option for audio narration, and more innovative webinars and videos. The Bipolar Wellness Centre serves as a credible, bipolar-specific, first stop for clients to learn and address the particular challenges they face. Empowered action on the part of the client is emphasised, as self-management strategies that they can use in addition to medication and psychological interventions are detailed for each domain. Healthcare providers may use a variety of therapeutic techniques to assist their client incorporate these strategies into their life, such as discussing the pros and cons of change. In addition, a strong therapeutic alliance where the client’s empowerment and skill-development is encouraged will add to the potency of the Bipolar Wellness Centre’s self-management focus.

Finally, the associated Quality of Life (QoL) Tool may be useful for healthcare providers to collaboratively develop a case conceptualisation with their clients. The QoL Tool provides a summary of a client’s status across 14 quality of life domains, allowing the development of a strategy that directs clinical focus to the domains where clients are struggling, as well as capitalising on those in which they are flourishing. Clients are likely to feel more empowered, engaged and develop a greater sense of self-efficacy when treatment goals are driven by their own subjective assessment of life areas in which they would like to see improvement. Examples of case-conceptualisation and treatment goal-planning using the QoL Tool are demonstrated in two videos with Dr. Greg Murray and actress Victoria Maxwell:

CREST.BD Quality of Life (QoL) Tool – Video 1

CREST.BD Quality of Life (QoL) Tool – Video 2

Healthcare providers may also wish to refer the QoL site to their clients as an additional self-monitoring tool, as clients can keep track of their own QoL results over time or print them out to discuss with their clinician during their next appointment.

In summary, the Bipolar Wellness Centre provides a framework for healthcare providers and individuals with bipolar disorder to work together towards the shared goals of optimised self-management and improved quality of life.

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