Exploring New Paths


Starting next week, Sadie will be participating in a study at the Stanford Pediatric Mood Disorders Clinic. The clinic is one of the few institutions in the country–and arguably the most respected–dedicated to understanding and treating pediatric bipolar disorder. The study will look at the effects of group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) on kids ages 12-17 with, or at high-risk for developing, bipolar disorder.

Even though it means we’ll be making the two-hour drive to and from Stanford once a week right after school for the next few months,  I’m so  grateful that Sadie is getting this opportunity. She’s pretty excited about it too. She’ll be learning how to recognize her negative thought patterns and develop strategies to prevent them from spinning out of control. And she’ll be doing it with a group of peers who struggle with the same issues. I know it will take a lot of practice for her to truly master CBT. But I think it has the potential to be an invaluable tool to help her stay on top of her moods and destructive thoughts instead of being overpowered by them. Especially as she heads toward her teen and adult years.

We’ve already made two trips down to Stanford to prepare for the study. During our first visit, we each spent eight hours being interviewed individually by various members of the research team and answering questionnaires. Lucky Sadie had to go back the following week for a three-hour blood draw. I really thought this would be a deal-breaker for her. Thanks to several traumatizing lab visits, she has an almost phobic fear of needles. So I was extremely proud when she agreed to be hooked up to an IV for the better part of an afternoon.

The people she met at Stanford on our first visit were a big reason she agreed to go through with the dreaded blood draw. Sadie fell hard for several of the staff members, especially the young woman (I’ll call her Peg) coordinating the study. They, in turn, were charmed by her quick wit, imagination and mega-watt smile. When Peg  casually mentioned that Sadie would get PAID for her lab work and interviews, my daughter’s eyes just about popped out of her head. By the time we left that day, she was barely worried about the blood work and couldn’t wait to go back to Stanford to hang with her new friends.

While her blood was drawn, Sadie was also given a stress test. She will go through the same process at the end of the study. By analyzing participants’ blood before and after the study, the folks at Stanford hope to learn more about the role of stress-induced inflammation in youth with bipolar disorder and to see if psychotherapy can reduce it.

It feels good knowing that at the same time my daughter will benefit from being in the CBT study, what researchers learn from it has the potential to help many other kids with bipolar disorder. I look forward to sharing more about our experience at Stanford in the coming weeks.



  1. exciting stuff! It’s so fascinating to me that Sadie already has such an articulate sense of her experiences. It will be interesting to see how much more attune she’ll become by the end of the study.

    1. Thanks Mama Bear! Tonight was the first session–seemed to go well. Six girls and one boy ( feel kind of bad for the boy being so outnumbered). Everyone seems nice and the therapist leading the group is great. And of course getting to swap stories with some of the other moms was, as always, an added bonus. Always think of you when I’m at Stanford–wish you and your son could be in the same group.

  2. I found you! I had checked your old blog, but some of my old bookmarks ended up getting lost. I’m so happy your girl is doing well. The Stanford group is really top-notch. In my past life, in biotech, I heard about their work. You are in good hands!

    We actually use CBT for my DD, who is 11 now too. It’s been tremendously helpful for her ASD. More importantly, she feels empowered by it. Unlike some other therapies and medications we used in the past, CBT works very much in the “here and now”. And it’s wonderful that the data you provide will help other children too.

    You may want to check out the book Mind Mapping for Dummies. I haven’t read it yet, but I heard it is a useful tool for achieving some control and clarity when things get to be too stressful. We may pick up the book to try, but it’s had good results for a friend of mine that has some depression issues (obviously different from ASD and BPD).

    We used to live near Stanford and I grew up in Palo Alto…If it’s been a long day, I’m sure Sadie would enjoy the Palo Alto Toy and Sport Shop on University Ave. (Shhh…there’s also the Peninsula Creamery for treats [milkshakes!].

    1. Thanks for all the great info and recommendations, Audrey! So glad CBT is helping your daughter.Palo Alto is now home to a new American Girl Doll store, so I have a feeling we’ll be spending a lot of time there! Great to hear from you.

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