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Psychiatric Rehabilitation Specialists
Established in 1977

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How Can I Help My Spouse With Mental Illness

At Life Adjustment Team, we take pride in providing unwavering support for both individuals and their spouses as they navigate the many challenges associated with experiencing mental health issues. As we acknowledge the profound impact mental illness can have on both individuals in the relationship, our commitment extends to assisting spouses in understanding and coping with these challenges.

Supporting a spouse with mental illness poses unique difficulties, including communication barriers and emotional strains, as well as other obstacles. Questions like “Am I responsible for my spouse’s mental health?” or “Can a marriage survive mental illness?” often cause guilt and uncertainty, but there is hope at the end of the tunnel. It’s important to recognize that spouses can play a crucial role in the overall well-being of a partner who is experiencing mental illness. While it may be challenging, the key is understanding the hurdles spouses may encounter and seeking the support and assistance needed to navigate these complexities.

Understanding Mental Illness in a Spouse

When one partner is suffering from mental illness, the effects can be profound on both the individual and the relationship as a whole. Mental illness may manifest in various ways, affecting emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Individuals may struggle to cope with overwhelming feelings of anxiety, depression, or instability, which can significantly impair their daily functioning and quality of life. This can create challenges within the relationship, leading to difficulties with communication, intimacy, and trust. Additionally, the stigma surrounding mental illness may further exacerbate feelings of shame or isolation, adding strain to the relationship dynamic. It is essential for spouses to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness in their partner and to seek support and intervention to navigate these challenges together.

How to Approach Your Spouse

Approaching your spouse about their mental health requires sensitivity and compassion. Here are some tips for initiating conversations and providing support:

Choose the Right Time and Setting

Find a quiet and comfortable place to talk where you both feel comfortable. Pick a time when you won’t be rushed and can engage in an open discussion without distractions.

Express Concern with Empathy

Begin the conversation by expressing your concern for their well-being. Use “I” statements to convey your feelings rather than placing blame. For example, say, “I’ve noticed that you seem to be going through a tough time, and I’m concerned about you.”

Listen Actively

Allow your spouse to share their feelings without interruption. Listen attentively and avoid making judgments. Show empathy by validating their emotions and letting them know you are there for support.

Encourage Open Communication

Create a safe space for open dialogue. Let your spouse know that you are willing to listen without judgment and that their feelings are valid. Encourage them to express themselves honestly.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Pose open-ended questions that invite your spouse to share more about their experiences. Instead of asking yes/no questions, inquire about their thoughts and feelings, fostering a deeper understanding.

Offer Reassurance

Assure your spouse that they are not alone in facing mental health challenges. Reiterate your commitment to supporting them throughout their journey and emphasize that seeking help is a sign of strength.

Suggest Professional Help

Gently suggest the idea of seeking professional assistance. Supportively mentioning therapy, counseling, or psychiatric evaluation can help your spouse understand that effective treatments are available.

Remember, the goal is to create an open and supportive environment where your spouse feels comfortable discussing their mental health. Approach the conversation with empathy and a genuine desire to understand and support them.

Common Mental Health Conditions Treated by Life Adjustment Team


Anxiety disorders may present as persistent worry, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances. Physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, and shortness of breath may also occur during anxiety episodes.

Anxiety can strain relationships, leading to communication breakdowns and increased conflict. It can also hinder daily functioning, affecting work performance and social interactions. Life Adjustment Team offers comprehensive support for individuals experiencing anxiety and their partners. Through evidence-based counseling, therapy, and tailored treatment plans, LAT helps couples navigate anxiety’s challenges, building understanding and promoting healthy coping mechanisms for improved relationship dynamics and overall wellness.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder involves two main phases: manic and depressive episodes. During manic episodes, individuals may experience elevated mood, increased energy, impulsivity, and grandiosity. Depressive episodes, on the other hand, manifest as intense sadness, fatigue, changes in sleep and appetite, and thoughts of worthlessness or suicide.

These mood fluctuations can significantly impact individuals’ behaviors and relationships. The intense highs and lows of bipolar disorder can strain marriages and other interpersonal connections greatly, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts. Mood stabilization through medication adherence is crucial in managing bipolar disorder. Life Adjustment Team provides holistic support and treatment options for individuals with bipolar disorder and their partners, emphasizing the importance of medication management, therapy, and lifestyle adjustments to promote stability and enhance relationship functioning.


Symptoms of depression can include persistent sadness, hopelessness, irritability, and other emotional, cognitive, and physical signs. Changes in appetite, weight, fatigue, and sleep disturbances often characterize symptoms of depression. Cognitive symptoms include difficulty concentrating, making decisions, or remembering details. Spouses should be vigilant for signs of depression in their partners, such as persistent low mood, withdrawal from activities, and changes in behavior or routine. Recognizing these symptoms early allows for timely intervention and support.

Depression is highly treatable with appropriate interventions, including therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Life Adjustment Team offers tailored treatment plans for individuals struggling with depression and their partners, utilizing a combination of psychological counseling, lifestyle changes, and medication. Life Adjustment Team also provides support to spouses to help them better understand their partner’s depression and provide emotional support.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders encompass a spectrum of conditions, ranging from cyclothymic disorder, characterized by mood fluctuations between mild highs and lows, to persistent depressive disorder, marked by chronic feelings of sadness or low mood. Individuals may experience periods of elevated mood (mania or hypomania) in manic disorders or prolonged episodes of depression in major depressive disorder. Mood disorders can profoundly affect interpersonal relationships and family functioning. Spouses may struggle to understand and cope with the unpredictable mood swings and behavioral changes associated with these disorders. 

Life Adjustment Team recognizes the complex impact of mood disorders on individuals and their families. Our Team offers comprehensive support and therapy services tailored to address the unique needs of individuals struggling with mood disorders and their spouses. We provide guidance and strategies to improve communication, manage symptoms, and create a supportive environment conducive to recovery.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is characterized by intrusive thoughts, urges, or images (obsessions) that cause significant anxiety or distress. Common obsessions include fears of contamination, doubts about safety or harm, and intrusive thoughts about symmetry or order. Individuals often engage in repetitive behaviors or mental rituals (compulsions) to alleviate distress or prevent feared outcomes. Compulsions may involve excessive cleaning, washing, checking, counting, or arranging objects.

Obsessive behaviors can profoundly impact a person’s daily functioning, relationships, and quality of life. As partners navigate the challenges of living with someone with OCD, they may feel frustrated, helpless, and resentful. Life Adjustment Team offers evidence-based treatments, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (ERP), to help individuals and their partners manage OCD symptoms effectively. Through therapy sessions and support, we empower couples to develop coping strategies, improve communication, and build resilience in the face of OCD-related challenges.

Personality Disorders

Personality disorders are characterized by enduring patterns of behavior, cognition, and inner experience that differ from normative behavior and cause distress or impairment in various areas of functioning. Common types of personality disorders include borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and avoidant personality disorder (AvPD), among others. These disorders often manifest in problematic interpersonal relationships, emotional instability, and difficulty regulating emotions.

Individuals with personality disorders may struggle with maintaining stable relationships due to their intense emotions, unpredictable behaviors, and difficulty empathizing with others. Partners of individuals with personality disorders may experience emotional turmoil, frequent conflicts, and feelings of invalidation or neglect. The relational dynamics can be characterized by cycles of idealization and devaluation, manipulation, and emotional volatility.

Spouses of individuals with personality disorders can benefit from implementing healthy behavioral strategies to navigate challenges effectively. Setting clear boundaries, practicing assertive communication, and prioritizing self-care are essential. Life Adjustment Team provides tailored support and therapy options to help spouses develop coping skills and maintain healthy boundaries in relationships affected by personality disorders.


Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder characterized by a range of symptoms, including hallucinations (perceiving things that aren’t real), delusions (false beliefs not based on reality), and disorganized thinking. Other symptoms may include social withdrawal, lack of motivation, and impaired cognition. Spouses should be vigilant for signs such as hearing voices, having paranoid beliefs, or displaying disorganized speech or behavior.

Spouses must recognize when their partners may need professional help for schizophrenia. Early intervention can lead to better outcomes. Life Adjustment Team offers comprehensive support, including medication management and therapy, to help individuals with schizophrenia manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life. Medication management, often involving antipsychotic medications, is a cornerstone of schizophrenia treatment to reduce symptoms and prevent relapse. Therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or supportive therapy, can help individuals cope with symptoms, manage stress, and improve social functioning. 

Substance Abuse Disorders

Substance abuse disorders involve the recurrent use of alcohol or drugs despite significant adverse consequences. Signs may include changes in behavior, such as increased secrecy, mood swings, neglecting responsibilities, or financial difficulties. Physical symptoms like changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and deteriorating health may also manifest. Substance abuse can profoundly impact individuals and their relationships, leading to conflicts, breakdowns in communication, and emotional distancing.

Recovery from substance abuse requires comprehensive support. Life Adjustment Team offers integrated support plans and resources to individuals and their affected spouses, guiding them as they navigate the challenges of substance abuse and work toward recovery. The Team emphasizes the importance of therapy, support groups, and rehabilitation programs in addressing substance abuse disorders. These resources can assist individuals and their families start their journey to recovery with confidence.

Coping Strategies for Spouses

Educating Oneself about Mental Illness

Understanding your spouse’s mental illness is crucial for providing effective support.

  • Research your spouse’s specific mental illness to understand its symptoms, triggers, and treatment options.
  • Attend educational workshops, read reputable books, or consult mental health professionals for reliable information.
  • Stay updated on the latest research and advancements in mental health care to better support your spouse’s needs.

Communicating Openly and Effectively

Effective communication is essential for navigating challenges related to mental illness in a relationship.

  • Foster open communication by creating a safe and non-judgmental environment for your spouse to express their thoughts and feelings.
  • Practice active listening techniques, such as paraphrasing and reflecting, to ensure you understand your spouse’s perspective accurately.
  • Use “I” statements to express your feelings and concerns without placing blame or making assumptions about your spouse’s behavior.

Providing Emotional Support while Maintaining Boundaries

Supporting a spouse with mental illness can be emotionally taxing, so it’s essential to establish and maintain healthy boundaries. 

  • Offer empathy and validation to your spouse by acknowledging their experiences and emotions without trying to “fix” or minimize them.
  • Set clear boundaries to protect your own mental and emotional well-being, such as establishing limits on caretaking responsibilities or scheduling regular self-care activities.
  • Seek support from friends, family members, or support groups to prevent burnout and maintain a healthy balance between supporting your spouse and caring for yourself.

Self-Care Practices for Spouses

Taking care of yourself is paramount when supporting a spouse with mental illness. 

  • Prioritize self-care activities that promote physical, emotional, and mental well-being, such as exercise, meditation, journaling, or spending time in nature.
  • Set aside regular relaxation and stress management time, whether through hobbies, creative outlets, or mindfulness practices.
  • Practice boundary-setting and assertiveness skills to advocate for your needs and communicate them effectively to your spouse and support network.

The Role of Professional Assistance

Seeking professional assistance is crucial for both individuals affected by mental illness and their spouses. Mental health professionals offer specialized support to help couples navigate the challenges of mental health issues within a marriage. For spouses, therapy provides strategies for effective communication, boundary-setting, and self-care. Individuals with mental illness benefit from diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing support to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. With professional intervention, couples can strengthen their bond and work towards healing together.

How We Can Help

In times of uncertainty and difficulty, Life Adjustment Team stands ready to provide tailored support and guidance for those living with mental illness, as well as their spouses or significant others. Our comprehensive services are designed to address the unique needs and challenges faced by both parties, helping to provide a ray of hope and comfort during trying times.

Therapy Options

Couples and their spouses living with mental illnesses can receive individual therapy sessions based on an evidence-based range of treatment strategies as well as group therapy sessions. Our licensed therapists provide a safe and supportive environment where individuals can explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, learn coping strategies, and work towards their treatment goals.

Support Groups

We facilitate support groups for spouses and their partners with mental illnesses, providing a space for mutual support, understanding, and encouragement. These support groups offer the opportunity to connect with others who are facing similar challenges, share their experiences, and learn from one another.

Family Therapy

We offer family therapy sessions to help couples and families improve communication, resolve conflicts, and strengthen their relationships. Family therapy can be a valuable tool for addressing family dynamics, fostering understanding, and promoting healing within the family unit.


We provide psychoeducational resources and workshops to help spouses better understand mental illnesses, treatment options, and strategies for supporting their significant others. These resources empower both parties with knowledge and tools to effectively navigate the challenges associated with mental illness.

Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR)

Our PSR services help spouses coordinate care, access resources, and navigate the mental health system on behalf of their partner with mental illness. Our experienced staff works closely with both partners to develop personalized care plans and connect them with the appropriate services and support.

By offering a comprehensive range of services tailored to the needs of both parties in the relationship, Life Adjustment Team aims to provide holistic support and assistance to families coping with mental illness. We are committed to helping spouses and their partners with mental illness navigate the challenges of mental illness and work towards improved mental health and wellness.

Life Adjustment Team’s Treatment Programs

Life Adjustment Team (LAT) offers a comprehensive range of treatment programs tailored to meet the unique needs of spouses supporting individuals with mental illness.

Psychosocial Rehabilitation

Our Psychosocial Rehabilitation program enhances social, emotional, and cognitive functioning to promote overall wellness. Psychosocial rehabilitation encompasses a variety of evidence-based techniques aimed at empowering spouses and their partners to manage the challenges associated with mental illness effectively. Through skills training sessions, spouses learn practical strategies for coping with stress, communicating effectively, and setting boundaries within their relationship. Support groups provide a safe and nurturing environment for spouses to share experiences, gain valuable insights, and receive mutual support from others facing similar circumstances.

Additionally, our vocational rehabilitation services help spouses explore career opportunities, build job skills, and achieve greater independence and fulfillment in their professional lives. By participating in these programs, spouses gain a deeper understanding of their partner’s mental health condition and acquire the tools and resources needed to support and empower their partner.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

The Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) at Life Adjustment Team is meticulously crafted to offer comprehensive treatment for individuals facing mental health challenges, all while enabling them to uphold their daily routines and obligations. This program encompasses structured therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, and psychiatric evaluations, ensuring a holistic approach to mental health care.

Individuals receive tailored treatment customized to their distinct needs and objectives during therapy sessions. These sessions may incorporate cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), mindfulness-based therapy, and other evidence-based approaches to tackle symptoms and foster recovery. Group therapy sessions provide a platform for individuals to connect with peers, exchange experiences, and glean insights from one another in a supportive and empathetic setting.

A notable advantage of the IOP lies in its flexibility. Participants can attend sessions at convenient times that align with their schedules.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Our Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) at Life Adjustment Team plays a pivotal role as a transitional level of care for individuals needing intensive treatment but not requiring round-the-clock supervision. This program offers a structured and supportive environment, allowing individuals to receive comprehensive treatment during the day while returning home in the evenings.

Within the PHP, participants can access various therapeutic modalities tailored to address their specific needs and facilitate their journey toward recovery. These modalities encompass individual therapy sessions, where participants engage in confidential discussions with a therapist to explore their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, as well as group therapy sessions, which offer a platform for peer connection, shared experiences, and acquisition of valuable coping skills in a supportive group setting.

Medication management is also integral to the PHP, ensuring that individuals receive appropriate medications to effectively manage their symptoms. Additionally, life skills training equips participants with practical skills and strategies to navigate daily challenges and enhance their overall quality of life.

The duration of the PHP varies depending on individual needs and treatment progress. Some participants may attend for several weeks, while others may benefit from longer-term engagement. As individuals progress in their recovery journey, they may transition to lower levels of care or outpatient services, where they can continue receiving support while gradually reintegrating into their communities.

Why Choose Life Adjustment Team

Expertise and Experience

At Life Adjustment Team, our dedicated professionals bring extensive experience and specialized training in mental health care. With years of hands-on practice and continuous education, our team is well-prepared to address various mental health challenges with precision and empathy. This wealth of expertise is the cornerstone of our mission, ensuring exceptional support and positive outcomes for our clients and their families.

Personalized Care Plans

Recognizing the uniqueness of each individual’s journey, we prioritize crafting personalized care plans tailored to meet the specific needs of every client and their loved ones. Through thorough assessments and collaborative discussions, we develop care plans that consider the individual’s diagnosis and their preferences, strengths, and aspirations. This person-centered approach ensures a more effective and compassionate path to recovery.

Holistic Support

Our approach goes beyond merely addressing mental health symptoms to encompass the overall well-being of individuals and their families. In addition to therapy and medication management, we offer various supportive services, including vocational counseling, life skills training, and wellness programs. We aim to create an environment conducive to lasting recovery and fulfillment by addressing physical, emotional, and social aspects of wellness.

Community and Connection

We firmly believe a sense of community and connection is integral to healing. Life Adjustment Team cultivates a supportive network beyond traditional therapy sessions. We facilitate client and family connections through group therapy sessions, peer support groups, and community events. We enhance the healing process and promote long-term wellness by fostering a sense of belonging and understanding.

Proven Success

Our track record of success, demonstrated by the testimonials and feedback from our clients, speaks volumes about the positive impact of our services. This success underscores our commitment to excellence and our unwavering dedication to helping individuals reach their full potential.

Ongoing Education and Resources

Recognizing the power of knowledge, we provide ongoing education and resources for individuals in our program as well as their partners and families. Through workshops, training programs, and informational materials, we empower our clients with the knowledge and tools necessary to navigate their mental health journey with confidence. By equipping individuals and families with information and support, we assist communities in overcoming obstacles and maintaining a healthy, fulfilling life.

Contact Life Adjustment Team for Support and Guidance

If you’re struggling to cope with your partner’s mental illness, you’re not alone. Seeking support and assistance is essential for spouses navigating the challenges of mental illness in their relationships. At Life Adjustment Team, we understand the unique needs of spouses and offer compassionate guidance and support to help you navigate this journey.

We encourage spouses to take proactive steps toward coping with their partner’s mental illness with the support of professionals like our team at Life Adjustment Team. Whether you need guidance, resources, or a listening ear, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Life Adjustment Team for assistance. You can schedule a consultation or appointment with our experienced team dedicated to supporting you and your partner on the path to healing and wellness. Together, we can work towards building a healthier and happier relationship amidst the challenges of mental illness.