Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), utilizes a uniquely structured model for the treatment of mental health issues mental health issues. Based on attachment and communication theories, IPT is designed to help people address current concerns and improve their interpersonal relationships.

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:

  • Anxiety
  • Disordered eating
  • Dysthymia
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Bipolar
  • Postpartum depression
  • Social phobia
  • Posttraumatic stress

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.