Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) was initially developed for the treatment of adult depression. It has now been adapted for many different issues and ages, and is a recognized treatment by the World Health Organization.
Interpersonal psychotherapy for adolescents (IPT-A) is a short-term individual psychotherapy for adolescents ages 13–18 who are suffering from depressed mood. IPT-A focuses on how relationships impact mood and how mood impacts relationships. The goals of IPT-A are to help adolescents recognize their feelings and become aware of how interpersonal stressors or conflicts affect their mood. Therapy aims to help adolescents improve their communication and problem-solving skills, better cope with change, develop resilience, and increase social supports.
Research has shown IPT-A to be effective as a type of treatment for mild to moderate adolescent depression. Adolescents treated with IPT-A demonstrate fewer depressive symptoms and better social and global functioning post-treatment.
Pregnancy and the postpartum period are significant times of transition during one’s life and can sometimes lead to an increased risk for depression. IPT has been shown to be an effective treatment for and prevention of postpartum depression. IPT is ideally suited because this therapy focuses on the important interpersonal changes and challenges women experience during pregnancy and the postpartum period. IPT is an effective treatment for depressed women, especially for those who are looking for an alternative to pharmacotherapy during pregnancy or breastfeeding. IPT works to reduce depressive symptoms and improve social functioning by focusing on IPT problem-specific goals. In addition, the IPT therapists pays special attention to the evolving relationship of the mother with the newborn. A secure and positive attachment between mother and infant is crucial to a child’s development. IPT therapists are involved in helping mothers to become more attuned and responsive to their infants needs during challenging times and to recruit or use supports to help with care of the child.
COVID-19 has had profound social, economic, financial, and psychological consequences on society. Understandably, reactions such as fear, worry, anger, and hopelessness have become commonplace and we are seeing a deterioration of mental health. The imposed social distancing directives and increased social isolation have served to disrupt social connections. Individual differences in how people are reacting to the pandemic, driven by differences in risk tolerance, resources, personality, and personal life circumstances have played a role in heightening interpersonal conflicts. Some people have suffered greatly with job losses or have lost loved ones, leading to grief reactions.
IPT has a framework to help those who find themselves with increased levels of stress and unable to cope during this time period. IPT helps a client understand how the current crisis is creating chaos and change in one’s life and disrupting social support. The therapist works collaboratively with the patient to enhance their social supports, adjust to unwanted changes, and decreasing interpersonal conflict and stress.
Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) for individuals who have an unhealthy relationship with food has been shown to be effective. The focus of treatment is on the interpersonal difficulties in a client’s life. The connection between interpersonal stress and maladaptive eating behaviours is identified. Client’s learn to recognize the interpersonal precipitants of stress and develop new effective ways to communicate, problem solve and deal with interpersonal changes. Once a client gains mastery in the interpersonal arena, disordered eating behaviours are replaced by more adaptive ways of coping.