Comparing the effectiveness of imagery focussed cognitive therapy to group psychoeducation for patients with bipolar disorder: A randomised trial

K. C. van den Berg*, A. T. Hendrickson, S. A. Hales, M. Voncken, G. P. J. Keijsers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Bipolar disorder is a severe, chronic mental disorder. Treatment options are limited, with phar-macological approaches continuing to dominate. However, relapse rates remain high. Several adjunctive psy-chosocial interventions, mostly psychoeducation (PE) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), have been trialled, but treatment innovation is still needed. In the past, brief group PE has proven as beneficial as longer individual CBT in reducing levels of depression and increasing self-management strategies. We compared the relative effectiveness of group PE to an imagery focussed cognitive behavioural therapy (ImCT).Study design: This was a randomised parallel group study with both daily and weekly measures. A total of 62 adult patients were randomly allocated to either ImCT or group PE. Daily, weekly and pre-and post-intervention measures were used to assess impact on (i) mood instability, (ii) overall levels of depression, anxiety and mania, and (iii) general functioning, hopelessness and imagery characteristics. A four-week baseline and 16-week follow-up period were included.Results: Mood instability reduced in both conditions after intervention. Levels of mania, depression and anxiety also reduced in both conditions, but on the daily measures, depression and anxiety significantly more so in the ImCT condition. Compared with the PE condition, the ImCT condition additionally showed increased level of functioning, reduced hopelessness, and a decrease in intrusive, problematic imagery.Limitations: These findings need to be replicated in a larger trial. Conclusions: Findings suggest that ImCT is a promising new avenue for management of bipolar disorder, an area in which treatment development is urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)691-700
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • Mental Imagery
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Psychoeducation
  • Mood instability
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Subsyndromal Depressive Symptoms
  • Treatment Enhancement Program
  • Mental-Imagery
  • Affective Lability
  • Comorbidity
  • Life


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