A pragmatic and focused approach to treating depression, which focuses on resolving difficulties by helping patients to address interpersonal problems and relationship-based issues.
What is Interpersonal Psychotherapy?
Interpersonal Psychotherapy (Klerman & Weissman et al, 1984) provides a pragmatic, time-limited and focused approach to the treatment of major depression. It is modest in its use of psychotherapy jargon and promotes attention to the relationship-based issues which are central to the experience of many depressed patients.
Treatment The treatment does not become entangled in questions of causation, acknowledging the capacity for depression to both precipitate and reflect interpersonal change and difficulty. Instead it attends to difficulties arising in the daily experience of maintaining relationships and resolving difficulties while suffering an episode of major depression. Aims The fundamental clinical task of IPT is to help patients to learn to link mood with interpersonal contacts, and to recognise that by appropriately addressing interpersonal situations they may simultaneously improve both their relationships and depressive state.
Goals of Interpersonal Psychotherapy
1. To reduce the symptoms of depression. 2. To improve the quality of the patient's social and interpersonal functioning.
IPT is an evidence-based psychotherapy. It has been evaluated as both an acute intervention (Elkin et al, 1989) and as a maintenance therapy (Klerman et al,1974; Frank at al, 1990) for major depression.
Adaptation & Use of Interpersonal Psychotherapy
IPT has also been adapted for use with different age groups including adolescents (Mufson et al, 1993) and older adults (Reynolds et al, 1999), as well as medically ill depressed patients (Markowitz 1998; O', 2000).
Bulimia Nervosa (Fairburn 1993) and Bulimic Disorders (Whight et al, 2011) Bipolar Disorder (Frank et al 1997), and Dysthymia (Markowitz, 1998).
Applications with anxiety disorders and post traumatic stress disorder are ongoing. IPT was originally designed as an individual therapy but has since been modified for use in a group setting (Wilfley et al, 2000).