Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal Therapy

Healthy relationships are the foundation to a healthy life.

That’s why focusing on your interactions and relationships—through Interpersonal Therapy—can significantly improve mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. 

Interpersonal Psychotherapy, also known as IPT, is an evidenced-based treatment that focuses on interpersonal issues in order to improve emotional distress. 

It’s based on the theory that quality of our lives are somewhat influenced by our interactions with other people, and that positive interpersonal interactions are necessary for good mental health. 

If we have more positive interactions with other people than negative, we will likely be more optimistic than vice versa. 

If we are unhappy or pessimistic about our interactions with other people, our interactions may be more complicated, as our personalities may be influenced by our interaction with other people. 

This form of treatment was developed based on empirical evidence that demonstrates the correlation between mood symptoms and interpersonal relationships, and is intended to support improved mood by increasing your social support as well as improving the quality of your interpersonal functioning. 

It is also designed to treat many mental health issues including depression, anxiety, disordered eating, substance abuse issues, postpartum depression, social phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and dysthymia. 

Interpersonal Psychotherapy recognizes the strong impact of social relationships, both in contributing to unwanted mental health symptoms, as well as inversely, recognizing the positive impact that making changes in your social environment can have. 

Strong interpersonal relationships and social support are crucial to good mental health, and a strong support system is immensely helpful in recovery. 

Interpersonal therapy can help in things such as discourse between those close to you, role disputes, life transitions, grief, and attachment issues. 

IPT works from the premise that relational distress is attached to psychological and emotional symptoms. 

A person’s ability to manage and regulate their mood in response to a stressful experience or crisis is heavily influenced by both their personal temperament, in addition to the person’s social surroundings, including the existence and support, or the lack of, significant relationships in their life. 

It’s assumed that your mood and external environment are very related, and your environment could be causing a lot of your negative mood. 

Without a good support system, recovery from any mental illness may be much more difficult. 

If you are having negative interactions, it’s even more important to employ interpersonal psychotherapy as to help you change the relationships that you may be having. 

Interpersonal Psychotherapy was intended to be practiced with both adolescents and adults, and is particularly useful for someone who is experiencing interpersonal conflicts within one or several relationships, experiencing a role transition in their life, or suffering from grief and loss of a loved one. 

The primary goals of Interpersonal Psychotherapy treatment are symptom reduction, and improved interpersonal functioning. 

We might talk about your current interpersonal relationships, your points of conflicts, and try to reduce the things that may be making yourself feel worse, and finding ways to improve current relationships. 

We will employ techniques such as helping you set strong boundaries with those around you, find better ways to communicate, or help you figure out the feelings of those around you and try to help you develop strategies and mentalities that help you long term in interacting with those around you. 

Here are the pros and cons of IPT according to positivepsychology.com:

The Pros of IPT

  • Useful for strengthening interactions and relationships with others.
  • Can help patients learn new skills to manage their current and future relationships and interactions.
  • Can help patients recognize and unlearn unhealthy patterns of interaction, communication, etc.
  • Serves as a useful outlet for those who are grieving the loss of a relationship (e.g., death, separation, abandonment).
  • Can help with mood regulation.
  • Teaches useful and productive modes of emotion expression.
  • Can be conducted in group settings (Markowitz & Weissmann, 2012)

Limiting Factors of IPT 

  • A person undertaking IPT must want to change. A client who is only undergoing IPT because someone else in their life wants them to is unlikely to benefit. Likewise, a client must be willing and self-aware enough to reflect on their contribution to particular problems in their relationships (GoodTherapy, 2020).
  • IPT relies on a client completing 10-16 weeks of therapy. If a client drops out partway through treatment, they may not see its desired benefits.
  • Because the focus of IPT is on current interpersonal relationships, clients whose relational dynamics are heavily influenced by experiences in their past (e.g., early developmental experiences) may find that this form of therapy fails to address the core issue. 


When participating in Interpersonal Psychotherapy treatment, you can expect to take a closer look at your social support network, communication style, and relational tendencies with others, as well as learn and practice new ways to expand your social support systems and deepen your existing relationships. 

At My LA Therapy, we will integrate IPT with other empirically based therapeutic modalities to create a customized approach tailored to your individual needs. 

The goal of Interpersonal Psychotherapy is to support you in identifying and modifying problems within your interpersonal relationships in order to stabilize your mood and foster a stronger sense of community.

OUR THERAPY METHODS

Therapy can improve your life by minimizing the anxiety in your life, identifying and changing underlying thought and behavioral patterns that contribute to your struggles, and providing you with strategies to decrease discomfort while restoring an overall sense of peace.

See the About Therapy page for a deeper look into this process. 

Our evidence-based, scientifically proven interventions are demonstrated by research to be effective in addressing a wide range of mental health and interpersonal relationship issues. 

Learn more about our empirically based therapy modalities by visiting our Methods page. 

WANT TO TALK? SPEAK WITH A MENTAL HEALTH EXPERT NOW

If you have any questions, contact one of our therapists for a free consultation any time.

RESOURCES

  1. Psychology Today
  2. GoodTherapy

Interpersonal Therapists

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