PFRG: research projects

Completed projects

Reaching a Balance - Pilot study of a self-directed Triple P intervention for families with a parent with bipolar disorder


Parenting can be a challenging and rewarding experience, and having ups and downs of mood is normal for any parent. However, if a parent’s mood is unstable for long periods, or especially high or low, it can make parenting more difficult. One reason for this is that children respond best to calm, consistent parenting approaches and positive parenting strategies. These can be difficult to achieve if the parent’s mood changes a great deal.

We know from other studies, including some that we have run ourselves that parents can improve their parenting and their mood by using a self-directed version of the Triple P Positive Parenting Programme. We are now testing this out with parents with bipolar disorder.

Members of the project

Professor Matthew R. SandersCo-investigator
Professor Rachel CalamCo-investigator
Dr Steven JonesCo-investigator


Research has shown that parenting children can be associated with increased parental stress levels especially when child behavioural problems are present (Podolski, 2001). This issue may be particularly important for parents with bipolar disorder as episodes can be triggered off by environmental and interpersonal situations. (Johnson, 2005). Additionally, increased stress within the family environment has also been related to increased risk of later psychological problems in children (Laroche, 1987).

Triple P

The Triple P Positive Parenting Programme have been developed based on social learning principles which aim at tackling ineffective and dysfunctional parenting practices which have been related to development and maintenance of child behaviour problems (Sanders et al., 2000). Triple P aims specifically at improving parenting skills to help parents deal with children’s problem behaviour. This programme has produced positive outcomes for parents and children immediately following treatment (e.g. Sanders and Dadds, 1993) and in the long-term in non-bipolar parents (e.g. Sanders, 1996).


The aim of the present study is to pilot the use the self directed Triple P intervention programme (Sanders, 1999) for parents who have bipolar disorder. This intervention has the potential to be directly beneficial to both the parent and child within this high risk group.