Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Judith McKay

Second Advisor

Elena Bastidas

Third Advisor

Arlene B. Gordon


bipolar disorder, caregivers, conflict, faith, stigmatization, stress


Mental health issues present challenges to the mentally ill, and to the family members who are their caregivers. Among the challenges faced by caregivers are conflict and stress. This transcendental phenomenological study explored the experiences and perceptions of caregivers of conflict, stress, and the role of faith. In addition, this study sought to learn what lessons and strategies caregivers utilized and often created while caring for their family member with bipolar disorder. In this study ten caregivers were interviewed, telephonically or face-to-face, using a semi-structured interview format. Coming from four states, some were employed, some were retired, and one was currently unemployed, but seeking employment. The data analysis reflected four themes: stress, conflict, faith, and strategies learned or created from taking care of a family member with bipolar disorder. This study contributes to the field of conflict resolution, particularly in light of increased diagnoses and treatment of mental health illnesses, such as bipolar disorder. As diagnoses of mental health illness increase, more family members are becoming caregivers, thus prompting the need for enhanced conflict management and resolution skills and training.