Pole to Pole: An approach for exploration and communication in bipolar

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Laura Walton, Gordon Mitchell, Lindsay-Jo Sevier-Guy, Stephanie Fagan, Emma Butchard, Graeme Babbs and members of Fife Bipolar Group

The Psychological Interventions for Psychosis (PIP) Service, within NHS Fife Clinical Psychology Department, provides psychological approaches for psychiatric conditions including psychosis and bipolar disorder. The service has links with various non-statutory and voluntary agencies supporting people affected by these conditions, and one such link is with the Fife Bipolar Group; a local branch of Bipolar Scotland. Over the last few years, our two organisations have been collaborating in the development of a new resource for people affected by bipolar disorder. The resource has been designed for people with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder; the people in their lives (i.e. family and friends); and professionals who work with people with bipolar disorder (e.g. healthcare workers).

The approached is based upon the principals of ACT and, through consultation with members of Fife Bipolar Group it evolved around the theme of travel, i.e. living with Bipolar being a journey. This is how it came to be called Pole to Pole. The name Pole to Pole simultaneously recognises the bipolar nature of emotional experience and the concept of exploring this experience. The approach consists of a resource pack, containing activities to explore experiences and values, which people are guided through in three group sessions. The sessions are designed to help people to reflect openly on their experiences of bipolar, whether directly or as a carer, and to communicate about the impact the condition has had in their lives. The activities are to create a Map of emotion experiences, a Guide based on values, a Compass to direct value-living and a Travelog to record and reflect upon experience. We also include additional experiential exercises in the sessions to deliver concepts such as acceptance and valued-living.

The purposes of Pole to Pole are to assist people with bipolar disorder and their carers to: learn more about mental, physical and emotional states; identify values and obstacles that get in the way of valued living; develop ways to work around the obstacles; and communicate with others about emotional experiences and values. Pole-to-pole may also be used to communicate with healthcare professionals about experiences of bipolar.

Our manual, pdfs of session Powerpoint presentations and pdfs of the activities are attached here.

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