Strengths and Weaknesses of Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Strengths and Weaknesses of Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Is interpersonal psychotherapy right for you?

Is interpersonal psychotherapy right for you?

Interpersonal psychotherapy is a psychological treatment that is relatively short term in nature. This form of therapy encourages a patient to regain his or her ability to function well on a day-to-day basis. Interpersonal psychotherapy generally lasts from twelve to sixteen weeks. The essential theoretical underpinning of IPS, is that the way an individual relates to other people directly affects his or her mental health in a profound way. Interpersonal psychotherapy sessions usually include structured therapy sessions, contemplative homework exercises and assessment rubrics. This form of interpersonal psychotherapy is intended to mitigate depressive symptoms and maladaptive interpersonal dynamics, in order to help an individual function well in his or her daily life.

 

This form of therapy has been show to be particularly effective for patients suffering from depression. In 1989, the National Institute of Health undertook a collaborative study that compared Interpersonal Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the prescription anti-depressant imipramine, and a placebo. The study concluded that IPS is just as effective at treating acute depressive symptoms during the initial two months of treatment as the other treatment modalities and prescription medications. In addition, the IPT treatment model also had lasting effects of up to 16 weeks in the relief of acute depressive symptoms for most patients. For more information about this study, please refer to: M. M, Markowitz, J. C., & Klerman, G. L. (2007). Clinician’s quick guide to interpersonal psychotherapy. New York: Oxford University Press.

 

Interpersonal psychotherapy is primarily based on the premise that many patients who suffer from depression, do so because of interpersonal relationships and not necessarily their family’s genetic make up or their own individual biology. In addition, the ongoing interpersonal dynamics of a patient’s interactions with other people has a pronounced effect on maintaining an optimistic mood or a depressed mood. Researchers have found that IPT is particularly effective in treating a patient who is having difficulty in adjusting to changes in their own life circumstances, including health issues and social isolation. For more information about the efficacy of this form of psychotherapy, please see: Mufson, L., Moreau, D., Weissman, M. M., et al (1993) Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depressed Adolescents. New York: Guilford Press.

 

IPT also effectively addresses issues of grief and difficulties that a patient may be experiencing in his or her relationships with family members and friends. Please note that IPS has not been proven effective in treating psychotic disorders. Another drawback of this form of interpersonal psychotherapy is that it is dependent on a patient completing the 12-16 week course of treatment. If a patient drops out of therapy prior to completing the recommended number of therapy sessions and homework assignments, it is unlikely that he or she will benefit fully and find lasting relief from depressive symptoms.

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