Having relationships, whether family-based, platonic or romantic, is part and parcel of what makes us human. For the most part, these relationships enrich our lives and offer vital social interaction. Relationships are however incredibly complex by nature - and the way we deal with them can have a significant impact on our mental well-being.
Interpersonal therapy primarily focuses on the way our relationships affect us and also how other mental health difficulties can affect our relationships. Helping with a variety of concerns, the therapy has been recommended for depression, anxiety and eating disorders.
On this page we will explore the role of interpersonal therapy in more depth, including what to expect in therapy, the various techniques used and areas this therapy can help with.
What is interpersonal therapy?
Also referred to as IPT therapy, interpersonal therapy is a structured, time-limited therapy that typically works intensely on established interpersonal issues. The underlying belief of interpersonal therapy is that psychological symptoms (such as depression) are often a response to difficulties we have interacting with others. The resulting symptoms can then also affect the quality of these interactions, causing a cycle. The thought process behind the therapy is that once a person is capable of interacting more effectively with those around them, the psychological symptoms can improve.
The time-limited or 'brief' aspect of IPT therapy means that this type of therapy will always have an end date (around 12-16 sessions is considered the norm) and will focus on just a couple of key issues. For this reason, this therapy is best suited to those with identifiable problems.
This therapy looks to reveal any core patterns that may have begun in childhood and are continuing to affect your relationships today. Your therapist will encourage you to reflect on the way you think and feel about past relationships/experiences and help you to adjust the way you deal with current difficulties effectively.