About Interpersonal Psychotherapy1

Interpersonal psychotherapy is a research supported therapy developed to treat individuals with major depression including adolescents.

ITP focuses on current real life events, interpersonal difficulties, and symptoms of depression. The intent is help people see the impact of recent life events and stresses on mood, and how the mood symptoms make it difficult to deal with current life events and stresses. The trained ITP therapist helps individuals develop effective strategies for dealing with current interpersonal problems related to the onset of depressive symptoms.

IPT is based on two principles:

1. Depression is a treatable illness rather than the individual’s fault. The therapist links the depression diagnosis to the interpersonal struggle which inspires hope and removes self blame

2. Mood and life situations are related. According to IPT, depression often follows a distressing challenge in one of four areas:

  1. complicated bereavement (such as the death of someone
    important );
  2. role dispute (struggle with someone important, a parent or a friend);
  3. 3. role transition (the beginning or end of a relationship or important activity);
  4. interpersonal deficits (such as isolation and limited social supports).

Once an individual becomes depressed, symptoms of the illness challenge their ability to function. Many people with depression turn inward, blame themselves and
lose sight of what is going on around them making it difficult to manage the stressful life event. The individual’s task in IPT is to resolve the distressing life event(s) or interpersonal crisis, build social skills and supports, and move forward to organize his or her life.

If he or she can resolve the life problem, depressive symptoms should resolve.

1Bleiberg, K.L. & Markowitz, J.C. (2008). Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depression. In Barlow, D.H. (4th Ed.). Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders: A Step-by-Step Treatment Manual (pp. 306-325). NewYork, NY: The Guilford Press.