The Sorensen Therapy for Instability in Mood (STIM) is an important new psycho-educational and cognitive therapy for bipolar disorder (BPD, formerly referred to as manic depression). The key characteristics of the therapy are that it is brief, taking place over only four sixty-minute sessions, and that it can be delivered by practitioners with little specialist training.
The author, John Sorensen, has achieved impressive results with patients who have received the therapy, with significant improvements in their perceived control over mood, and significantly reduced hopelessness, which is known to be closely related to the likelihood of attempting suicide.
Historically, there has been a reluctance to offer psychotherapy to patients with BPD as they were perceived to be unable to benefit from talking treatments - and to this day the standard treatment remains prophylactic pharmacological interventions. However, the STIM manual and client workbook offers a psychological therapy which has proven to be effective, popular with clients, inexpensive to implement and which delivers rapid results.
The STIM therapy is based on the collaborative development of a relapse-prevention handbook that also provides the client with an individualised bio-psycho-social formulation of their BPD-related experiences. It involves education about the disorder, work with the therapist to understand the client's particular triggers for manic or depressive periods, and the inclusion of the patient's social network in attempts to stabilise mood.
John Sorensen is a Doctor of Clinical Psychology and has worked in mental health departments in Denmark and in the UK where the research to develop and validate the STIM approach was conducted. Throughout his professional life he has been committed to the development of treatments and approaches that empower service users and are based on the needs of the individual. The STIM is just such an approach to mental illness.
'The manual and the intervention it describes are likely to have a significant impact on the lives of people diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder, and to be of considerable value to clinicians working in mental health settings' Prof. David Winter, Head of Clinical Psychology Services, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust
Published October 2005; 80pp; manual shrinkwrapped with 5 workbooks