Interpersonal Therapy Treatment for Depression

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Tess Thompson

Treating depression naturally should always been the first preference. This is primarily due to the fact that there are side effects and addictive properties associated with most medications that are used for treating depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy, in contrast to traditional ‘talking therapy’, has been established as being the most effective among the recent natural remedies for depression. Interpersonal therapy can be considered as an offshoot of cognitive behavioral therapy. Most of the techniques that are used in interpersonal therapy are modifications of the intervention methods that have been used extensively in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Cognitive therapy emphasizes on the internal mental processes. In conjunction with behavioral therapy, it focuses on how people think about themselves. Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a short but highly focused form of treatment that addresses the problems related to social functioning in patients suffering from depression.

Interpersonal therapy can help significantly in certain specific areas:

  1. Interpersonal disputes that can arise from distress and difference in conceptualization of situations
  2. Grief, as in loss due to death
  3. Transitions of roles at critical junctures in life like retirement, childbirth and aging
  4. Interpersonal deficits or the inability to build relationships

Various questioning, listening and intervention styles are used to treat interpersonal issues. Some of the techniques used are listed here:

  1. Clarification - questioning in a style as if to seek clarifications from the patient in order to uncover their biases.
  2. Supportive listening - a technique of listening using only meaningful interjections.
  3. Role playing and Communication Analysis - techniques used as behavioral interventions for treating interpersonal disputes
  4. Encouragement of Affect – a process that allows patients to accept the unwanted emotional component of an interpersonal issue

Interpersonal therapy may involve 12 to 16 sittings of at least one hour each. The therapist uses the initial sittings to accomplish these goals:

  1. Gather information
  2. Understand the nature of illness and interpersonal issues
  3. Structure IPT sessions and the course of treatment
  4. Explain the interpersonal issues involved

Treatment usually involves addressing the various aspects that cause problems in relationships. No attention is given to the depression except for inquiries into the severity of symptoms and the reaction to treatment.

There is some sort of debate as to the role of the therapist. The debate is around the level to which the therapist should be active. Even in the absence of clear-cut guidelines, interpersonal therapy can be of great help in identifying and treating problem areas in building relationships.


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