Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is a structured, time-limited treatment that focuses on improving interpersonal relationships and social functioning to help reduce distress. Developed in the 1970s by Gerald Klerman and Myrna Weissman, IPT initially aimed to treat major depression. 

As the name suggests, it is all about your relationships with others and how you handle it. Unlike other therapies that consider depression stems from an individual’s personality, IPT recognizes that external factors in a person’s life contribute to their mental health. 

a couple about to kiss against pink purple evening sky

How Does Interpersonal Therapy Work?

IPT is a short-term therapy that usually lasts 12 to 16 sessions and starts with identifying interpersonal problem areas to focus on. It can be unresolved grief, role transitions (such as job changes or divorce), role disputes (conflicts with significant others), or interpersonal deficits (social isolation or difficulty forming relationships).

Techniques used in Interpersonal Therapy include: 

  1. Interpersonal Inventory: Your therapist conducts a detailed review of your significant relationships, both past and present, to identify patterns and issues affecting your mental health.
  2. Exploring Problem Areas: IPT focuses on four main problem areas:
    • Grief: Addresses unresolved grief and helps process emotions related to the loss of a loved one.
    • Role Disputes: Identifies and resolves conflicts with significant others due to differing expectations.
    • Role Transitions: Assists in coping with major life changes, such as marriage, divorce, or retirement, which can lead to depression.
    • Interpersonal Deficits: Helps improve social skills and relationships for those who struggle to form and maintain healthy connections.
  3. Communication Analysis: Your online therapist in Toronto analyses your communication patterns and teaches new communication skills to reduce misunderstandings in relationships. 
  4. Behaviour Change: Exercises like role-playing help you to safely make changes in behaviour to improve social interactions and relationships. 
  5. Encouraging Emotional Expression: Learn to express emotions constructively and without feeling judged by others. 

What Can Interpersonal Therapy Help With?

Through IPT, your therapist will provide a supportive environment to address the social parts of your inner conflict. It is used to treat:

  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Adolescent Depression
  • Grief and Loss
  • Marital and Relationship Conflicts
  • Social Isolation
  • Life Transitions and Role Changes

I’m here to support your healing journey. Take the first step today.

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Jennifer Pinto
Registered social worker, MSW, RSW