IPT | A psychological talking therapy for mental health and wellbeing
Interpersonal Psychotherapy provides a pragmatic, time-limited and focused approach to the treatment of major depression. It is modest in its use of psychotherapy jargon and promotes attention to the relationship-based issues which are central to the experience of many depressed patients.
The treatment does not become entangled in questions of causation, acknowledging the capacity for depression to both precipitate and reflect interpersonal change and difficulty. Instead it attends to difficulties arising in the daily experience of maintaining relationships and resolving difficulties while suffering an episode of major depression.
The fundamental clinical task of IPT is to help patients learn to link mood with interpersonal contacts, and to recognise that by appropriately addressing interpersonal situations they may simultaneously improve both their relationships and depressive state.
Goals of IPT
To reduce the symptoms of depression
To improve the quality of the patient's social and interpersonal functioning.
IPT is an evidence-based psychotherapy, and has been evaluated as both an acute intervention, and as a maintenance therapy for major depression.
Stages of IPT
IPT employs a flexible structure, moving through three main phases. In so doing it specifies particular goals for each stage and proposes a range of strategies by which the therapist may achieve these. The first phase constitutes assessment, giving particular attention to both the collaborative diagnosis of depression and developing an understanding of the interpersonal context. The overlap between symptomatic and interpersonal experience guides the decision on treatment focus, with four choices available - interpersonal dispute, interpersonal role transitions, grief and interpersonal deficits. The second stage takes on the negotiated focus as the guide, working to alleviate symptomatic experience through the resolution of the primary area of interpersonal difficulty. The final stage of IPT specifically addresses issues of termination.
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