Interpersonal Therapy: Everything You Need to Know
What is Interpersonal Therapy?
Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on a person’s relationships with others. The main goal is to improve the quality of these relationships. This, in turn, can help resolve various mental health challenges.
- Interpersonal focus: IPT revolves around the idea that most emotional problems arise from or affect interpersonal relationships.
- Time-limited: Unlike some other therapies, IPT is time-bound. It often spans 12 to 16 weeks. This time frame encourages focus and ensures targeted therapeutic work.
- Here and now: While past relationships and events are considered, IPT emphasizes current interpersonal conflicts and challenges. This approach makes the therapy relatable and actionable.
Table of Contents
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The Importance of Relationships
The Structured Nature of IPT
Comparing Interpersonal Therapy with Other Psychotherapies
Therapy methods are diverse, catering to different needs and conditions. Here’s how Interpersonal Therapy compares with other major psychotherapies:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT focuses on the interplay between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It teaches patients to identify and change negative thought patterns to alter behaviors. CBT has proven successful in treating a variety of conditions ranging from mental health disorders to addiction.1
IPT, in contrast, zooms in on interpersonal relationships. It aims to improve how one relates with others to enhance mental health.
When deciding between the two, it boils down to the nature of the patient’s challenges. If their concerns center around how they think and act in situations, CBT might be most appropriate. But, if their issues are more about relationships and interactions with others, IPT should be considered.
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
DBT is a branch of CBT, tailored to address extreme emotional instability. It offers tools and techniques to handle strong emotions.
IPT is instead focused on resolving interpersonal issues that contribute to emotional distress.2
For those who find themselves overwhelmed by their emotions, DBT may be appropriate. But, if relational issues are the crux of the problem, IPT can be a great fit.
Core Techniques of Interpersonal Therapy
- How patients describe interactions with others
- Their body language
- Their tone of voice
Exploring Past Relationships
- Repetitive behaviors
- Recurring feelings
- Consistent types of interactions.
Treating Disorders with Interpersonal Therapy
Depression can often stem from strained interpersonal relationships or a lack of social support. IPT focuses on these interpersonal issues that might be contributing to depression. It helps people identify and address relationships and patterns that feed depressive symptoms.
IPT addresses current relationships and social scenarios. This makes it a targeted approach for those whose depression is intertwined with their interpersonal dynamics.
Anxiety, in its many forms, can have a strong relational component. Someone may worry about how others perceive them. They may fear social interactions.
Interpersonal therapy approaches anxiety by zeroing in on these interpersonal triggers. It helps people challenge negative thought patterns about their interactions with others.
Substance use isn’t just about the substance itself. Often, there are underlying issues, many of which are interpersonal in nature. Someone may use substances to cope with a troubled relationship. Their social circle may revolve around substance use.
Interpersonal therapy identifies and addresses the interpersonal triggers that lead to substance use. It provides a fresh perspective, focusing on both substance use and relationships that might fuel it.
Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder, can significantly impact daily life. These conditions often involve feelings of sadness, emptiness, or extreme mood swings.
IPT can be a valuable tool in addressing mood disorders because it identifies and addresses interpersonal issues that contribute to or worsen mood disturbances. For instance, a rift with a close friend or ongoing tension at work might intensify feelings of depression.
Over time, as these relationships or interactions become more positive, or as people become better equipped to manage them, their mood can stabilize and improve.
Eating disorders aren’t just about food. They can be deeply intertwined with issues of self-worth, control, and often, interpersonal problems.
Someone with an eating disorder might use food as a way to cope with feelings of inadequacy in relationships. It may also be a response to societal pressures about appearance.
IPT helps to pinpoint these connections, giving people a clearer understanding of how their relationships influence their feelings about food and their body.
IPT Across Demographics
Children and Adolescents
How IPT Can Help Adults
- Communicate effectively
- Set boundaries
- Nurture meaningful relationships
- Maintain their emotional well-being
Diverse Cultural Backgrounds
Challenges and Myths Surrounding IPT
Overemphasis on the Present
Potential for Relational Blame
Requires Active Participation
Potential for Emotional Intensity
Stigma and Misconceptions
Ripple Ranch’s Interpersonal Therapy Program
Our team consists of experienced professionals who are well-versed in IPT and are committed to your well-being. They continually undergo training to stay updated with the latest techniques in the field.
Contact Ripple Ranch Today
If you’re considering IPT or want to learn more about how it can benefit you, reach out to us. At Ripple Ranch, we’re here to guide, support, and help you navigate the challenges of life with evidence-based care.