Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Psy.D. Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Academic Discipline

Clinical Psychology - Florida School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Christina Brown

Second Advisor

Dr. Kathie Bates


Bipolar I disorder (BD) is a somewhat rare mental health disorder that impacts not only the person diagnosed but also their family (Chang et al., 2001; Cook et al., 2005; Wearden et al., 2008). Children of parents with BD may experience complex trauma as inconsistencies in parenting, conflict within the household, and possible neglect or abuse may be present (Chang et al., 2001; Rusner et al., 2009; Wearden et al., 2008). Multiple developmental areas can be impacted for individuals who have endured complex trauma to include attachment, somatic distress, affect regulation, biology, behaviors, cognition, and identity (Cook et al., 2005; Courtois & Ford, 2014). As such, this literature review identified ways in which children of parents with BD may meet criteria for complex posttraumatic stress disorder (Cook et al., 2005; Herman, 1992). Internal Family Systems is a treatment modality and theory which can be utilized for individuals with trauma symptoms (Foundation for Self Leadership, 2015; Schwartz, 2021; Schwartz & Sweezy, 2020). This literature review utilizes a hypothetical case of an individual raised by a parent with BD to answer the following research questions: 1. What kind of trauma may be experienced from being raised by a parent with BD? 2. How can offspring of parents with BD be conceptualized through the lens of IFS? 3. How can IFS treatment be applied for individuals raised by a parent with BD? Future research and clinical implications are addressed.