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What is IPT (Interpersonal Psychotherapy)

interpersonal psychotherapy

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a short-term (16 to 20 sessions) therapy that emphasizes the role of interpersonal issues and relationships. The focus therapy is on interpersonal issues that seem to be most important in the onset and/or maintenance of psychological distress. Usually, these involve a recent transition (e.g., divorce, marriage, break-up, moving, job loss, starting school), a dispute (e.g., marital problems, difficulties at work, family problems, difficulties with friends), a recent loss (e.g., miscarriage, death, illness) or negative interpersonal patterns. The first 1-3 sessions of IPT are devoted to the assessment and identification of your specific interpersonal stressors.

When should you consider IPT?

IPT is a time-sensitive treatment, normally delivered over a period of 16 to 20 sessions. The theory behind IPT is that the interpersonal relationships we develop throughout our lives vastly impact our emotions and our mental and physical health.

Some of the reasons that patients begin IPT include:

  • Job loss
  • New job
  • Divorce
  • Relationship breakdown
  • Death in the family
  • Pregnancy
  • Miscarriage
  • Moving homes
  • Starting school

Essentially any change in your life, which alters your current social situation and causes you mental distress as a side effect, is cause for considering interpersonal psychotherapy treatment.

What to Expect at Your IPT Sessions

Before you begin IPT, our therapist may request that you create a list of your life areas where you feel distressed or tension. This helps us determine which interpersonal relationships are triggers for these emotions.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Are there any specific interpersonal situations that cause changes to my mood?
  • Are these recurring symptoms, or do they come and go?
  • How long have I been experiencing interpersonal stress or depression?
  • Do these interpersonal issues affect my work, home, family, and romantic life? If so, to what degree?
  • Are my interpersonal symptoms related to feelings of grief, loss, or change?

The first 1 to 3 sessions of your treatment are then dedicated to assessing these triggers and developing coping mechanisms for handling the interpersonal stress you feel during the day to day life.

As your treatment continues, sessions will begin to focus on problem resolution throughout interpersonal relationship issues. This process will be unique to your personal needs and situation. At the Cognitive & Interpersonal Therapy Centre, we know no two people are exactly alike. We customize your sessions to meet you where you are in your Interpersonal Psychotherapy journey.

The Four Focuses of Interpersonal Psychotherapy

IPT spans a wide assortment of mental stressors and interpersonal problems, including depression, mood problems, and sleep disorders. Within the realm of interpersonal psychotherapy, there are additional subcategories that further distinguish coping strategies for individual therapies.

The four major areas of focus in Interpersonal Psychotherapy are:

  • Transition: Transitioning between roles, whether in your personal or work life, can be difficult. Change is not always easy, and the stress you feel during these transitions can transfer into your mental and physical wellbeing. Transitions can be small things like changing your role at work or big things like a break-up or moving to a new town.
  • Grief: Grief is a significant area of interpersonal trauma because not only is there change, there is also loss. Losing a loved one impacts emotions, ability to work, energy levels, sleep patterns, and social interaction with others. The impact of grief may also extend into work, making the financial loss a problem. Grief is not only an emotion associated with the death of a loved one. Grief is experienced for many reasons like divorce, infertility, or the loss of a sense or limb.
  • Interpersonal Patterns: Sometimes, negative interpersonal relationships create interpersonal patterns. Some patterns are caused by anger, arguments, or upset; others are caused by a communication breakdown. Analyzing communication methods, stress coping techniques, and problem-solving can reduce stress and negativity in interpersonal relationships.
  • Role Disputes: The roles we hold within our personal relationships can be linked to a sense of self and sometimes self-worth. This includes the role of parent, child, sibling, spouse, guardian, friend, and co-worker. When there are disputes within these interpersonal roles, it results in conflict, emotional distress, and the breakdown of relationships.

Within each of these subcategories, there is a further division between causes, symptoms, and resolution methods. Your plan of action will depend on how individual elements of your interpersonal relationships affect your life.

How IPT Can Improve Work and Social Life

IPT can be used to treat multiple psychological issues in both adults and adolescents, including stress, conflict within relationships, eating disorders, and depression. Sometimes IPT is combined with other treatments to help improve mental and physical wellness. Your psychotherapy sessions will provide you with the skills and tools necessary to change negative thoughts and emotions into positive experiences long after your treatment has ended. This helps you be a better communicator, leader and improves confidence in interpersonal situations.

The research and results behind IPT have proven it effective in treating many mental health disorders. As your abilities to handle interpersonal strengths, you will notice a significant difference in how you think and feel emotionally and physically.

Why choose CITC for Interpersonal Psychotherapy?

With longstanding success within the world of cognitive and interpersonal therapy, CITC has been serving Ontario for many years. With intensive training in various aspects of psychotherapy, our team of experienced therapists are consistently following new information and research to supply the newest and best therapeutic practices to our clients.

Interpersonal relationships are a major part of human life. From work to home and beyond, the relationships in your life dictate the events you partake in, the activities you enjoy, the place you work, and much more. When there is turmoil within these relationships, or yourself concerning your relationships, other areas of your life suffer the consequences. This also impacts mental and physical wellbeing.

Working with a psychotherapist at the Cognitive & Interpersonal Therapy Centre provides the skills and support you need to manage your interpersonal relationships and reach emotional and mental goals. By developing the tools needed to self-solve these problems, you can move forward in life confident in any given situation.

Contact the Cognitive & Interpersonal Therapy Centre

Remember, you are never alone. For more information on IPT, we invite you to contact CITC. You can reach out through our online contact page or by calling 1-416-570-5050.

Click on the link to book a session with one of our team members.

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