UCSF Bipolar Group

Bipolar GroupThe UCSF bipolar psychoeducational group starts on September 14, 2015. This group is lead by bay area bipolar expert Descartes Li, MD. 

It runs for 8 sessions, Mondays 12pm to 115pm. Most commercial insurance is accepted.

Dr. Li describes this group as “an advanced class about bipolar disorder for people who have bipolar disorder.”

For regular readers of this blog it might be more of an intermediate level group.

People who have attended it in the past have said it was helpful, especially the opportunity to meet with other people who were wrestling with bipolar.

LOCATION:     UCSF Parnassus Campus – 401 Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA



Some topics covered in Bipolar Disorder Group Sessions

  • Self Awareness and Mood Charting
  • Medications:  How to Get the Most (and Least) out of Your Meds
  • Sleep Management
  • Communication Skills and Stigma
  • Psychotherapy of Bipolar Disorder

The group focuses on common challenges faced by individuals with bipolar disorder with an emphasis on learning specific information about bipolar disorder.   The style is supportive, while maintaining an atmosphere of mutual respect. The group runs twice a year so if you miss this one will let you know about the next.

Unless you already have a psychiatrist at UCSF, potential members must be referred by their treating psychiatrist. (Your psychiatrist would need to contact Doctor Li).

There is a monthly support group for alumni of this group which many people find very helpful.

If you are not already registered at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, you will have to come in for an initial intake and registration before the start date of the group.


Bipolar Education Program

Doctors oBipolar Education Programften do a poor job of educating their patients about their health problems. That is particularly troubling when you are talking about a condition as complicated as bipolar.

We have been working on an educational program for this site based on the Barcelona psycho-education program for bipolar, to be called Bipolar 101.

The Barcelona program has clearly been shown, in two large studies, to have a significant impact on patient outcomes.

Colom F, Vieta E, Sánchez-Moreno J, et al. Group psychoeducation for stabilised bipolar disorders: 5-year outcome of a randomised clinical trial. Br J Psychiatry. 2009;194:260-265.

Colom F, Vieta E, Martinez-Aran A, et al. A randomized trial on the efficacy of group psychoeducation in the prophylaxis of recurrences in bipolar patients whose disease is in remission. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2003;60:402-407.

In the process we have been acquiring new books and materials to review.

We would love to know what our subscribers feel they should have found out about earlier. What was confusing? Poorly explained?  Send an email to me (peter@moodsurfing.com) with your thoughts and concerns. Bipolar Education Program

The Barcelona program has an outline of topics that we are using as a start – the list is to the right.

It is a bit daunting to consider, but what is missing from this list?

Other resources that we are using include Jim Phelps’ site PsychEducation which, while graphically simplistic, has an extraordinary depth and range of information.

Jim, in turn, has written a nice summary of resources that doctors might want to use in an article in Psychiatric Times. 

There is another online program, called Beat Bipolar, which was put together in Wales. This is an 8 session online program with some nice graphics and good content.

Our experience with the online insomnia program that we have recommended is that just signing up for an online program may not work. But reviewing an online program between visits with your mental health professional can be a very helpful way of mastering complicated content.

Jim’s article recommends some books that we are going to review and add to this site.

For young adults he recommends – Facing Bipolar by Russ Federman, or the more informal, but equally informative, Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bipolar but Were Too Freaked Out to Ask by Hillary Smith.

Diagnosis Section from PsychEducationJim suggests some topics that may be useful to add to the diagnosis section of the program we are working on. These are summarized in the table to the right. For example, the Barcelona program does not talk much about anxiety and bipolar, but it is increasingly clear that anxiety plays a major role in the course of mood swings, and that treating anxiety with therapy can have a big impact (see, for example, an article in press in the American Journal of Psychiatry).

Needless to say, we hope to get as much feedback as possible from readers of this forum.