What Is Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)?

What is Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)?

What Is Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)?

A past teacher, caregiver, or romantic partner might have negatively affected an individual – all contributing to someone’s adult depression. Or specific childhood experiences, poverty, traumas, or poor parenting, or any combination of these experiences, are definitely considered possible depression triggers.

The type of therapy known as interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) recognizes all of these past relationships and situations as predisposing factors, but it doesn’t dwell on them, or try to therapeutically resolve them.

Instead, IPT focuses on helping individuals change behaviors today that are directly linked to depression, placing the most emphasis on an individual’s current social and interpersonal relationships. This therapeutic school believes that these relationships directly affect mood.

For example, depressed individuals feel miserable, trying to piece together “where things have gone wrong,” often dwelling on all their perceived failures or injustices.

IPT acknowledges the influence of past factors, but also stresses that once individuals become depressed, the reverse also occurs: individuals lose their ability to communicate and interact well with others, causing more depression and adversity.

In other words, depression occurs within the context of social environments – not in isolation.

The “Oxford Textbook of Psychotherapy,” edited by Glen O. Gabbard, Judith S. Beck, and Jeremy Holmes,” lists the following characteristics of IPT:

The goal of an IPT therapist is to guide the patient in identifying the main issue contributing to depression, such as conflict within a marriage, or with a manager, or with a new mother or father after a parent’s divorce and remarriage.

Then the therapist addresses the behaviors that need to change in order to develop a healthier relationship, and helps build the skills to change these behaviors, skills that contribute to reducing depression.

The therapist also helps the patient observe mood changes related to events and interactions that occur within relationships, and through role-playing and problem solving, to come up with healthier communication patterns and ways to resolve specific conflicts.

Communication Analysis

IPT therapists typically customize a therapeutic plan for each individual and his or her type of depression, severity, and the specific problems that the individual struggles with on a regular basis. In almost all cases, however, each therapeutic plan contains a “communication analysis.”

During this analysis, the therapist asks the patient for a detailed account of troublesome interactions with a significant other, recalling specific statements, tone of voice used, body language, and gestures that each person exhibited during the exchange.

Passive behavior is typically associated with depression, for example.

A patient with passive behaviors and depression could be struggling in a romantic relationship with a significant other who seems to always take charge, or make all the decisions.

Similarly, another patient with an elderly, ill parent and an overly aggressive sister struggles with depression because of always having to take orders from that sister.

The therapist working with patients displaying passive behaviors will have patients detail conversations that left them feeling taken advantage of, unable or unwilling to express their wishes.

A Communication Analysis Case Study

In the case of the aggressive sister, the therapist analyzes the following encounter as retold by a female patient:

The aggressive sister shouted or loudly demanded that the patient take the parent to the doctor, giving orders of what to tell the doctor, all the while standing in a hovering position, and pointing her finger at the patient.

All the while the patient looked away from her sister, hunched, and simply said okay. Anger and resentment at the sister led to increased depression, and a self-defeating resignation that the patient had no choice or say in this situation. Additionally, the patient felt guilty for not wanting to take the parent to the doctor because of the parent’s poor health.

The therapist has the patient consider a number of alternative ways to handle this situation. The therapist might have the patient say or write out alternative responses, and role-play the alternatives. The therapist takes the place of the aggressive sister, coming up with detriments to the positive, assertive behavior the patient practices in order to help the patient think proactively.

In teaching assertiveness, the therapist goes over the following important features of healthy, productive responses:

Through the discussion with the patient, the therapist will also address the issue of guilt, making statements such as: “It’s normal to want to help an elderly parent who is sick, and to both feel bad for the parent, and to sometimes feel guilty when more help can’t be provided.”

This encourages the patient to discuss the situation more thoroughly, helping the patient realize that being able to help also means taking care oneself so that the patient is fully present and helpful to her parent during the times that she does assume caregiving responsibilities.

As with other evidence-based therapies, IPT draws on a body of research to develop its techniques and interventions that help patients better manage their depression. This type of therapy has shown significant positive results in a number of large and small case studies designed to measure its effectiveness. It is often combined with medication to achieve the best overall outcomes.

If you desire to help depressed individuals or others with mental health disorders using therapies such as IPT, consider a career as a mental health counselor. Contact mental health counseling schools for more information on this career, and the mandatory educational requirements needed to become a counselor.

Источник: https://www.allpsychologycareers.com/therapy/interpersonal-therapy/

What is IPT? Interpersonal Therapy – Treatment – TherapyTribe

What Is Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)?

Interpersonal psychotherapy is an approach to psychotherapy that originated over 20 years ago as a way to treat individuals with major depressive disorder. A main focal point of IPT is on a person’s social functioning and interpersonal relationships.

IPT highlights four problem areas which are believed to be the main contributing factors to depression. When working with an interpersonal therapist, the client is able to determine which of the four main problem areas are contributing the most to their depression.

Once this is determined, therapy can shift toward healing and/or coping with the identified area.

The four basic problem areas contributing to depression (as recognized in interpersonal therapy) are:

  1. Unresolved grief: Losing a loved one is difficult, and grieving looks different for everyone, but there is a line between the healthy process of grieving and when it can become detrimental (referred to as unresolved and/or complicated grief). When a person experiences “healthy” grief, they are usually able to return to normal functioning within a few months (although this does not mean they are no longer sad, processing feelings, etc.). Unresolved grief is grief which is either delayed and experienced long after the loss, or grief that impacts a person returning to normal functioning for an extended period of time.
  2. Role disputes: Role disputes occur when a client and a significant person (a spouse, a parent, a close friend, a coworker, etc.) in their life have differing (and often contradictory) expectations about their individual roles within the relationship.
  3. Role transitions: Depression is extremely common for people in periods of major transition. Major life transitions often include role changes (i.e. – becoming a new father, getting a divorce, retiring), which can leave many unsure how to cope.
  4. Interpersonal deficits: If a client has a history of problems in forming and sustaining healthy relationships, this is ly connected to the deterioration of their mental health and wellbeing. The area of interpersonal deficits also encompasses social isolation or involvement in unhealthy and/or unfulfilling relationships.

Interpersonal psychotherapy presumes that by improving one’s communication patterns, ability to relate to others, and capacity for grieving the loss of relationships, mental health and wellbeing will be improved.

Upon its origination, IPT was somewhat influenced by the psychodynamic approach to therapy, in that there is a similar focus on emotions, and on the creation of a strong therapist-client relationship.

However, IPT is unique from psychodynamic therapy in that it is far more “present-day” focused, emphasizing the client’s current emotions and relationships struggles (and how to resolve), rather than exploring the deep-seated sources of their symptoms.

Interpersonal therapy also draws from more cognitive- and behavioral-based approaches, in that it looks at a person’s maladaptive thoughts and behaviors, but only so far as they relate to interpersonal relationships.

What to Expect in Interpersonal Psychotherapy

IPT is an attractive option for many people, due to it being a time-limited treatment (usually 12-16 weeks).

Research has shown the short-term nature of IPT helps therapists retain clients for the course of treatment, as compared to longer-term treatment approaches where client drop out rates are high.

Interpersonal psychotherapy is less directive than other approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, but still has structure due to the inherent framework of the approach. This framework can be seen in the three phases of interpersonal therapy.

  • Phase 1 – the first three sessions, where the therapist will assess client symptoms and explore their social and relationship history.  This is where a client’s unhealthy patterns, expectations, etc. are usually identified (problem areas)
  • Phase 2 – the next few sessions are where the therapist will assist the client in implementing healthy coping strategies directly related to the identified problem area(s).
  • Phase 3 – the last phase of treatment includes helping the client plan for maintenance as they begin to transition away from therapy and back to the “real world” on their own.  This phase may also be used to address any other problem areas that have been identified as the therapeutic process progressed.

An interpersonal therapist will ly assign therapeutic homework at some point throughout the course of treatment, along with an ongoing assessment of progress and continuing (or emerging) struggles.

It is important to note that clients of IPT must have internal motivation for change, and be willing to explore their own role in the presenting problem(s), in order for treatment to be effective.

Who Can Benefit from IPT?

Although interpersonal therapy got its start as a treatment for depression, it’s applications have grown over the years, as more and more research on IPT has emerged.

Today, IPT is considered a versatile and flexible approach to psychotherapy, and thus, is used in treating a variety of different mental health struggles and diagnoses.

In fact, interpersonal therapy is now considered an empirically validated treatment for:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Disordered Eating
  • Dysthymia
  • Substance Abuse Issues
  • Bipolar
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Social Phobia
  • Post Traumatic Stress

Find a therapist that is skilled in interpersonal therapy.


Klerman, G. L., & Weissman, M. M. (1994). Interpersonal psychotherapy of depression: A brief, focused, specific strategy. Jason Aronson, Incorporated.

Markowitz, J. C., & Weissman, M. M. (2004). Interpersonal psychotherapy: Principles and applications [Electronic version]. World Psychiatry, 3(3), 136-139.

Reynolds, C., et. al. (1999).  Nortriptyline and interpersonal psychotherapy as maintenance therapies for recurrent major depression: A randomized controlled trial in patients older than fifty-nine years.Journal of the American Medical Association. 281: 39-45.

Wilfley, Denise E., & Shore, Allison L. (2015). Interpersonal psychotherapy. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. 631-636.

Wurm, C, Robertson, M, & Rushton, P. (2008). Interpersonal psychotherapy: An overview. Psychotherapy in Australia, 14(3), 46-54.

Источник: https://www.therapytribe.com/therapy/what-is-ipt-interpersonal-therapy/

Interpersonal Therapy | Types of Therapy

What Is Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)?

Interpersonal therapy (sometimes called IPT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on building interpersonal and communication skills with the goal of strengthening relationships.

This kind of therapy involves learning to identify your existing strengths and using them to nurture and maintain positive, meaningful relationships.

In IPT, a big part of the therapist’s job is to help you learn new interpersonal skills and support you as you practice using them, both inside and outside of your therapy sessions.

IPT also focuses in part on intrapersonal skills, such as gaining perspective on yourself and your thoughts.

IPT usually follows a clear structure and is designed to be completed over the course of about 12 to 16 weeks.

What interpersonal therapy can help with

IPT can be helpful for a broad range mental health concerns, including:

Effectiveness of interpersonal therapy  

Research has found empirical evidence that IPT is often helpful in treating several different mental health conditions.

Because IPT was first developed as a brief treatment for depression, there are many studies showing effectiveness for people dealing with depression. For example, one review of 38 studies found that IPT was helpful in treating depression both as a stand-alone treatment and in combination with medication. [1]

A similar review also found that IPT is effective in treating people with eating disorders. [2]

How does Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) work?

IPT is the idea that depression and other mental health conditions can be caused or worsened by issues in our present-day relationships with other people. IPT focuses on improving relationships rather than improving symptoms, with the belief that better relationships and more social support will in turn lead improved mental health.

In particular, IPT focuses on processing four different kinds of common interpersonal issues:

  • Conflict or dissatisfaction in personal relationships, which can lead to painful feelings sadness and anger
  • Issues related to major life changes (such as having a baby or moving to a new city), which can change how people feel about themselves and their relationships with others
  • Grief related to the death of a loved one or other recent interpersonal loss
  • Loneliness, isolation, and other challenges related to starting relationships

How frequently are Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) sessions held?

IPT sessions are generally held on a weekly basis. However, some therapists may recommend more or less frequent sessions, your symptoms and treatment goals.

How long does Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) treatment last?

IPT usually lasts for 12 to 16 weeks. Some versions include only individual therapy, while others may include some group therapy sessions as well.

How are Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) sessions structured?

IPT is a relatively structured therapy. Though not all treatments will be exactly the same, IPT generally includes the following treatment phases:

  1. Initial assessment. Your first three sessions will usually focus on working with your therapist to establish a full picture of your mental health challenges and how they may relate to your interpersonal relationships. Your therapist will also guide you through an “interpersonal inventory” at this stage, during which you will discuss the various relationships in your life and identify any patterns in how you tend to relate to others.
  2. Defining a treatment focus. Drawing on the information you covered in the first phase, you and your therapist will identify a focus for your treatment. This might involve processing grief around a relationship, resolving conflict with another person, or dealing with relational changes related to a life transition.
  3. Learning and implementing new strategies. In the middle phase of your treatment, you will learn new communication and relational skills in your sessions. Then, you will practice using them both inside and outside sessions. Many therapists assign homework to guide this phase of treatment.
  4. Reevaluating goals. Midway through treatment, you and your therapist will evaluate whether your previously defined goals still make sense. You might shift your focus slightly at this point, or pick a new goal if you’ve made significant progress on the previous one.
  5. Continued practice. In the later phase of your treatment, you’ll continue to work with your therapist on improving your relationships using the new skills you’ve developed in sessions.
  6. Ongoing assessment. IPT generally involves frequent check-ins about your progress. There will also be time devoted at the end of treatment to reviewing what you’ve worked on and determining strategies you can rely on going forward.

What happens in a typical Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) session?

IPT can involve a wide range of techniques in the middle phases of treatment. A few common activities you might work through with your therapist include:

  • Role-playing: Your therapist will help you act out conversations and interpersonal techniques, so that you can practice them before they occur in real-world settings.
  • Brainstorming options: Together, you and your therapist will come up with different ways that you might handle various relationships and decide on course of action to try using.
  • Analyzing interactions: You’ll often discuss your interactions with other people in detail, so that your therapist can help you better understand what went wrong or right.
  • Tracking patterns: Though IPT focuses mostly on present relationships, you might also discuss past relationships as a way of gaining insight into how you generally tend to relate to people.
  • Observing your thoughts: Your therapist will help you learn to listen to your existing self-talk and observe how it might be affecting your relationships with yourself and, consequently, other people.

What should I look for in an Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) therapist?

Therapists for IPT may be social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, or another kind of mental health professional. No matter what kind of therapist you choose to work with, make sure that they meet the following criteria:

  • An advanced degree in a mental health field
  • Licensure to practice in the state where you live
  • Additional experience and/or training using IPT
  • Connections to and/or willingness to work with medical professionals, if you suspect that you might need medication as well as psychotherapy
  • If applicable, experience working with people who share your specific concerns (if you’re dealing with a certain mental health condition) or identity (if you feel that any aspect of your identity may be relevant to treatment)

New to therapy? Learn about how to find a therapist here.

Resources:1: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3646065/

2: https://www.dovepress.com/interpersonal-psychotherapy-for-eating-disorders-current-perspectives-peer-reviewed-article-PRBM

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)

What Is Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)?

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) was developed by Gerald Klerman and Myrna Weissman in the 1970s and the work of Harry Stack Sullivan, Adolf Meyer, and John Bowlby.

IPT is a type of therapy that utilizes a uniquely structured model for the treatment of mental health issues.

attachment and communication theories, IPT is designed to help people address current concerns and improve interpersonal relationships.

Find a Therapist

Interpersonal psychotherapy was initially developed as a brief therapy for depression. Because people with depressive symptoms often experience problems in their interpersonal relationships, IPT is a common treatment option for people experiencing depression.

Although the depression itself is not always a direct result of negative relationships, relationship issues tend to be among the most prevalent symptoms during the initial stages of depression.

Once addressed, strengthened relationships can serve as an important support network throughout the ensuing recovery process.

In general, interpersonal therapists provide active, non-judgmental treatment in order to help people in therapy successfully handle challenges and improve mental health.

Things that might be addressed over the course of treatment can include roles disputes, interpersonal shortcomings, life stage transitions, relational conflict, grief, and other attachment issues.

IPT is well researched as an effective treatment for depression and has been modified to treat several other mental health issues. These include:

Interpersonal Psychotherapy Processes

Within a fairly short amount of time—usually 20 weeks or less—the person in therapy may be able to experience relief from symptoms and begin work on any underlying issues more quickly than is often possible in other forms of therapy.

Therapists might utilize various techniques, such as role-playing, to help people in therapy adjust how they relate to their world.

An interpersonal therapist will typically focus on the most pressing relational problems in order to support the person wishing to make changes.

IPT is an adaptive form of therapy. It lends itself to modifications that make it suitable for the treatment of several mental health concerns. In addition, IPT can be conducted individually or in a group setting with children, adolescents, and adults.

Effectiveness of Interpersonal Psychotherapy

IPT is recognized as an effective mode of treatment for mental health issues by professional entities the American Psychological Association (APA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Since its development in the 1970s,  IPT has been determined to be both versatile and effective by multiple studies.

Though not effective for every population, it has been shown to provide relief of some depressive symptoms equal to that found in antidepressant medication regimens.

IPT can be administered as a sole form of therapy or in conjunction with medications. The decision whether to receive IPT, medication, or a combination of both is up to the therapist and person in therapy. However, most studies seem to indicate that the combination of medication and interpersonal therapy may be more beneficial than either on its own.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy Manuals

Currently, there are several interpersonal psychotherapy manuals available, but three in particular have gained popularity with people in therapy and clinicians a. The Comprehensive Guide to Interpersonal Psychotherapy, written by Myrna M. Weissman, John C.

Markowitz and Gerald L. Klerman in 2000, offers useful information on the IPT approach and its many adaptations and applications for a variety of settings.

This guide also provides historical information, training resources, and additional therapeutic insight into the field of IPT.

The Clinician’s Quick Guide to Interpersonal Psychotherapy is the second version of The Comprehensive Guide. This updated edition was released in 2007 by the same authors and provides a detailed account of the three specific phases of IPT for the treatment of depression.

This guide also addresses the unique application of IPT for other psychological issues and offers a wealth of resources for clinicians who specialize in this discipline.

This page contains at least one affiliate link for the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which means GoodTherapy.

org receives financial compensation if you make a purchase using an Amazon link.

The third manual, Interpersonal Psychotherapy: A Clinician’s Guide, was published in 2003 and was written by Scott Stuart and Michael Robertson.

In this book, the authors explain the theory of IPT and outline the techniques and applications of the process.

Stuart and Robertson offer answers to common problems in addition to a brief history of IPT and resources for training and certification.

Limitations of Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Most research on IPT includes very few limitations for IPT. Nonetheless, there are some things to keep in mind if you are trying to find a therapist that offers IPT. First, IPT's therapeutic process is the assumption that the person in therapy is motivated to change.

For IPT to be effective, the person in therapy must be willing to examine his or her own role in the problem. Additionally, people in treatment must have a level of awareness and understanding of interpersonal relationships in order to work on them.

This is not always possible in some populations or for some individuals with certain mental health conditions.

IPT can be an attractive therapy option for some because it is a short-term therapy model. For therapists, this means there may be less of a chance that people in therapy will drop treatment. Overall, interpersonal psychotherapy is a reputable treatment option for many mental health issues and populations.


  1. About IPT. (n.d.). In International Society for Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Retrieved March 22, 2015, from http://interpersonalpsychotherapy.org/about-ipt
  2. Cornes, C. L., & Frank, E. (1994). Interpersonal psychotherapy for depression. The Clinical Psychologist, 47(3), 9-10.
  3. Markowitz, J. C., & Weissman, M. M. (2004, October). Interpersonal psychotherapy: principles and applications [Electronic version]. World Psychiatry, 3(3), 136-139.
  4. Sederer, L. I. (2013). The Family Guide to Mental Health Care. New York, NY: W. W. Norton Company, Inc.
  5. Van Schaik, D. J., Van Marwijk, H. W., Beekman, A. T., De Haan, M., & Van Dyck, R. (2007, September 13). Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) for late-life depression in general practice: uptake and satisfaction by patients, therapists and physicians. BMC Family Practice, 8(52). doi:10.1186/1471-2296-8-52.

Last Update:03-14-2018

Источник: https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/interpersonal-psychotherapy

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