Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) was developed by Harry Stack Sullivan, Adolf Meyer, and John Bowlby, and is a technique that utilizes a defined and uniquely structured model for the treatment of depressive issues and symptoms. Usually conducted over a short period of time, up to 20 weeks, this psychotherapy focuses primarily on a person's most significant symptoms and related issues. As a result, the issues that are most closely linked to the depressive symptoms are addressed during the initial stages of treatment. By doing this, a therapist is able to help a client gain some level of functionality in order to facilitate further healing. Within a minimal amount of time, the client is able to see relief from their immediate symptoms and can begin to work on the underlying causes of the depression. This technique lends itself to variations that make it suitable for the treatment of other issues in addition to depression.
Because people with depressive symptoms usually feel the largest impact on their interpersonal relationships, IPT works during the first several sessions to uncover and measure the key interpersonal dynamics that will be the target of the therapy for its duration. Although the depression itself is not a direct result of negative relationships, these issues tend to be the most prevalent symptoms during the initial stages of depression and can hinder progress if not properly managed. Once addressed, these strengthened relationships can serve as an immense level of support throughout the ensuing recovery process.
Similar to other therapies, IPT has not been proven effective for all people. However, it has been shown to provide relief of depressive symptoms equal to that found in anti-depressant medication regimens. IPT can be administered as a sole form of therapy, or in conjunction with medications. The decision to receive IPT, antidepressants, or a combination of both is one that is left up to the therapist and client.
Currently, there are several Interpersonal Psychotherapy manuals available, but three in particular have gained popularity with clients and clinicians alike. 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 approach to IPT and its many adaptations and applications for a variety of settings. This guide also provides historical and training resources as well as additional therapeutic insight in 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.
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. In addition, Stuart and Robertson offer answers to common problems as well as a brief history of IPT and resources for training and certification.
Last updated: 07-02-2015