Pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) is a mental illness that affects the daily lives of children and adults, particularly their family functioning. Past research has found significant differences in maternal-child warmth and disciplinary warmth, maternal and paternal hostility and tension, family cohesion and adaptability, and minor conflicts between children with PBD and comparison groups. Typical methods for assessing family functioning involve objective scales, questionnaires, and interviews. The projective measure, the Kinetic Family Drawing (KFD), has been utilized with other groups including populations of abused and maltreated children, and children with serious medical illnesses, but has yet to be utilized with the pediatric bipolar population. The current study analyzed family functioning through the use of KFD's completed by children with PBD and healthy control (HC) children. Method: The sample contained 24 parent-child dyads (14 control and 10 bipolar), with children ranging from 10 to 18 years of age (M=13.7 years). Each child completed the KFD task and parents and children completed the Self-Report Family Instrument (SFI), which was used as an objective measure of family functioning to compare to the KFD. Conclusion: No differences were found in the KFD's between the PBD and HC groups. Results indicate that parents and children in the PBD group view their family functioning more positively overall and in the areas of Family Health/Competence, Family Cohesion, Family Communication or Expressiveness, and Directive Leadership when compared to the control group. Results were not in the expected direction, and are discussed and analyzed further. Implications of the findings are also addressed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Manic-depressive illness in children--Patients--Family relationships; Kinetic Family Drawing Test

Publication Date


Document Type


Department, Program, or Center

Department of Psychology (CLA)


Schenkel, Lindsay

Advisor/Committee Member

Merydith, Scott


Note: imported from RIT’s Digital Media Library running on DSpace to RIT Scholar Works. Physical copy available through RIT's The Wallace Library at: RJ506.D4 L35 2012


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