Reviewed by Dr. Becky Spelman on 27/01/2020
What is Interpersonal Therapy?
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is based on the premise that the relationships we have and the things we experience in our lifetimes, and especially during challenging or transitional times, have an impact on our mood, affect, and well-being. In other words, for most people, achieving mental wellness depends not just on internal factors, but also on a variety of external factors, including the relationships they have with the people in their lives.
From birth, we are social creatures, and we need the emotional support and feedback that come from being in relationships of various kinds with others. Therefore, IPT addresses troubling issues specifically in terms of how they manifest in social, interpersonal contexts—in other words, in our interactions with our close family members, friends, and so forth—rather than by exploring the origins or unconscious elements of the behaviours that are contributing to the problem.
Who is Interpersonal Therapy for?
Patients for whom IPT is recommended engage with their Therapist in a positive, warm and empathetic environment in a highly structured manner over a specific period of time, which is typically from twelve to sixteen weeks. Sometimes patients are also prescribed medication such as anti-depressants to help them in the short-term, but the goal of IPT is to help patients to develop positive interpersonal relationships that will help them to manage their issues more effectively.
IPT, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, involves the use of structured interviews, codified tools to assess the patient’s current situation and progress, therapeutic approaches including role play and communication analysis,and tasks that the patient is asked to carry out at home between sessions.
The first few weeks of therapy typically involve working together to explore the patient’s personal history and relationships, as well as identifying specific areas in their life that they might experience as particularly problematic. Working together, the patient and therapist may identify different areas to address as they go through the time-limited therapeutic process.
IPT helps patients to understand themselves better and to develop and improve close relationships and effective communication skills so as to become able to develop networks of social support that will be there for them during the difficult periods of their lives.
What disorders can help treat?
IPT is proven to help with a range of psychiatric and psychological issues, including depression, bipolar disorder, social phobia, eating disorders, and substance addiction, as well as during particular challenges such as bereavement, adjusting to parenthood and/or postnatal depression, or a change in one’s life circumstancessuch as conflict in interpersonal relationships (for example, during a period of marriage breakdown), the recent diagnosis of a life-changing ailment, or when the patient is experiencing social isolation and associated problems. For many patients, IPT has been proven to be as effective at reducing symptoms as medication—but without the potential side effects and psychological dependency that can result from the long-term medication of symptoms.
During the therapeutic period, the client learns the problem-solving skills they need to manage their own emotional landscape more effectively in the future, thereby strengthening their social acuity and ability to interact with others in a positive manner and reducing their need for further intervention and for treatment in the form of medication.
Who can I speak to further about Interpersonal Therapy in London?
If you would like to talk to someone about Interpersonal Therapy, please get in touch with us at the Private Therapy Clinic by telephone at: 020 38871738 or book online.
- Kiesler, Donald J.; Watkins, Lucy M. (1989). “Interpersonal complementarity and the therapeutic alliance: A study of relationship in psychotherapy”. Psychotherapy. 26 (2): 183–94.
- Markowitz, John C.; Weissman, Myrna M. (2012). “Interpersonal Psychotherapy: Past, Present and Future”. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy. 19 (2): 99–105.
- Weissman, Myrna M.; Markowitz, John C. (1998). “An Overview of Interpersonal Psychotherapy”. In Markowitz, John C. (ed.). Interpersonal Psychotherapy. American Psychiatric Press.
- Wilfley, Denise E., & Shore, Allison L. (2015). Interpersonal Psychotherapy. In International Encyclopedia of the Social &Behavioral Sciences (pp. 631-636).