10 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
Fact checked

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a form of psychotherapy that seeks to help people develop deep and long-lasting relationships with one another. It has been shown in studies to aid with the symptoms of a variety of mental health disorders.

IPT is a type of psychotherapy that can help people with depression and other mental illnesses.

It was introduced in the 1970s by two psychotherapists to deal with depression, and therapists have subsequently used it to treat a wide range of mental health disorders. More information can be found in this article.

Interpersonal therapy session

Interpersonal therapy is a focused, short-term psychotherapeutic treatment for depression. IPT, which focuses on interpersonal concerns, has been proven in studies to be at least as beneficial as an antidepressant treatment for mild to severe clinical depression. Originally designed to treat adult depression, it has been demonstrated to be beneficial in the treatment of adolescent depression and is frequently advised as a depression treatment in children.

Events that occur in the context of personal relations do not lead to depression. However, depression occurs within the context of interpersonal interactions and has an impact on the roles that people play in those relationships. Interpersonal counseling for depression focuses on how symptoms are linked to a person’s relations, particularly family and peers, through treating interpersonal issues.

The treatment’s initial goals are to reduce symptoms quickly and promote social integration. The long-term goal is to empower persons suffering from depression to make the necessary changes on their own. They will be better prepared to cope with and lessen depression symptoms if they can do this.

There are two distinct types of interpersonal therapy structures you might come across, including metacognitive and dynamic.

Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT)

DIT, also known as psychodynamic interpersonal treatment or Mentalization-based therapy,  is intended to help you better comprehend your own and others’ thoughts and feelings. It usually takes place over the course of 5 months and comprises 16 sessions.

Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy (MIT)

MIT is an integrated treatment for personality disorders characterized by significant emotional inhibition (holding back feelings) or avoidance. MIT was found to help lessen depression symptoms and increase the ability to perceive emotions in a 12-week trial.

Because IPT focuses on building relationships rather than treating depression, it begins with a therapist taking an interpersonal inventory. This list is a thorough examination of your important relationships, both present and previous. These connections are then categorized into four major concern areas.


Depression can happen as an outcome of the grief from the loss of a dear one. While going through the phases of grief is natural in this situation, a big loss might lead to unresolved grief. This is grieving that is protracted (lasts a long period of time after the bereavement), distorted, or sorrowful in which you don’t feel emotions but instead have other depressive symptoms like insomnia and lethargy.

Conflicts or disagreements between people

A role dispute occurs is when you and the people you care about have conflicting expectations about your relationship. If you believe your partner should show more compassion or start asking questions about your day, this is an example. Depression can result from a misalignment between perceptions and real-life conduct. Interpersonal resolutions therapy can help identify the conflict or disputes in roles in a particular relationship.

Changes in Roles

Depression can strike during life transitions, such as when your career shifts and you’re not sure how to deal with it. Role changes include things like becoming a parent, married, divorced and retiring. Interpersonal resolutions therapy can help in managing the transition of roles.

Deficits In Interpersonal Relationships

If you’re having trouble forming and maintaining strong relationships, IPT therapy can help you figure out what’s wrong. This can include thoughts of inadequacy, difficulty expressing emotions, and other sentiments or ideas that are blocking you from communicating properly.

Your therapist can assist you in determining which area is the source of your current issues. The goal of therapy is to assist you in dealing with this particular interpersonal difficulty.

These conflicts might arise in the context of a marriage, a family, a community, a school, or a workplace. Disagreements arise when people have different expectations of a circumstance. When the conflicts that arise from the expectations cause significant discomfort, they become an issue that must be managed.

Interpersonal therapy is a textbook treatment that relies on structure and organization. That means the therapist follows a treatment plan that has been scientifically proven to be effective.

Depression has three components, as per the International Society for Interpersonal Therapy.

  • Manifestation of symptoms
  • The ability of social functioning
  • Problems with personality

IPT is a type of short-term treatment that comprises 12 to 16 one-hour weekly sessions. The therapist concentrates on difficulties that can be identified in how a person interacts with others or does not interact with others. When those problems are dealt with, the patient notices a difference in their symptom experience.

Symptoms are not discussed in therapy sessions except to assess their intensity and the impact of various treatments. Rather, the therapist will work with the patient alone or in a group to discover and then resolve one or two major issues in their relationships. For the duration of treatment, the number of issues addressed is intentionally kept to one or two. As a result, there’s a lot of focus on how to make the required changes in interpersonal circumstances to assist lessen depression symptoms.

Interpersonal therapy is typically delivered in one-hour sessions that occur weekly for 12 to 16 weeks. Sessions may be extended for another four or more weeks, based on the severity of the depression.

If you’re being managed with interpersonal counseling for your depression, the first few sessions would be spent assessing your depression, introducing you to the IPT emphasis and method, and finding particular interpersonal concerns or problems. You and the therapist would make a list of your interpersonal concerns, rate them, and determine which one or two issues looked to be the most necessary to address with regards to your depression.

At a minimum, the next 8 sessions would be devoted to addressing those difficulties, including learning more about them, looking for changes you can make, and then putting those changes into action. The therapist might employ a variety of tactics throughout this part of the therapy, including, but not limited to:

Clarification is a technique for recognizing and overcoming personal biases in comprehending and expressing interpersonal problems.

  • Listening with compassion.
  • Role-playing.
  • Analyzing communication.

Encouragement of affect is a therapy procedure that allows you to experience unwanted or unpleasant emotions and feelings associated with interpersonal issues in a secure therapeutic setting. When you do, accepting those emotions and feelings as part of your life becomes easier.

The sessions will be entirely focused on resolving the difficulties that have been identified. Some people find this difficult to adjust to, particularly those who are used to more traditional, open-ended, and introspective methods of therapy. It may take a few weeks for your primary concentration to move to the IPT method.

The focus on terminating therapy is another crucial part of the IPT process. The patient is aware from the start that therapy has a time limit. The sessions will focus on termination concerns during the last four weeks of therapy.

Termination of IPT is viewed as a loss that the patient will have to bear. As a result, you’ll be asked to analyze the significance of the loss to you. What difficulties does it raise, and how can you use the interpersonal adjustments you’ve learned to make in therapy to help you evaluate and cope with the loss? The goal is for the patient to become more conscious of their abilities to deal with interpersonal issues that have prevented them from actively managing their depressive symptoms.

When dealing with interpersonal conflicts, the therapist works with the patient to determine how serious the problem has become and how difficult it is to resolve it. For example, a disagreement between a married couple could arise as a result of the wife’s efforts to be more autonomous. The therapist would lead the individual, in this example the husband, through a series of questions in order to uncover the origins of miscommunication. The therapist may next employ problem-solving techniques, communication training, or another strategy to assist the patient in resolving the issue in a way that does not exacerbate the patient’s depressive symptoms.

The therapist assists the patient in determining the distinctions between the old and new roles when dealing with role transition concerns. Then they’d work together to figure out what’s causing the issues and come up with a solution.

When dealing with loss, the therapist helps the patient move past it by facilitating the grieving process. The following are two essential strategies for doing so:

  • Empathetic listening offers support and a secure outlet for the patient’s emotions.
  • Clarification is a tool for assisting patients in examining their own perceptions of the issue.

The therapist will work with the patient to evaluate previous relationships or the present relationship the patient has with the therapist if the patient has interpersonal deficiencies. The purpose is to discover tendencies that prevent people from creating and maintaining healthy relationships, such as excessive dependency or animosity. Once those patterns have been identified, the focus shifts to how to change them. The patient is then encouraged to form new relationships and use the therapeutic improvements that have been made, with the therapist’s supervision and aid.

The therapist gradually reduces their level of intervention as the sessions go. The idea is for the patient to become more self-aware and make more modifications on their own. This becomes simpler with time, and the patient’s ability to self-intervene improves even after the sessions have ended, frequently peaking 3 to 6 months after therapy has ended.

Interpersonal therapy can provide a variety of advantages, including:

Better Relationships: Interpersonal relationship therapy can help patients realize how their relationships affect their lives, which can lead to better relationships. The idea is to help people perform better socially while also reducing their depression.

Reduced depression: This type of psychotherapy is founded on the idea that depression comes as a result of interpersonal relationships. To put it another way, your relationships have the power to raise or lessen your depression, and feeling depressed has the potential to affect your relationships. As a result, the purpose of IPT is to improve how you connect with others in order to alleviate your depression symptoms.

Unlike some other types of depression psychotherapy, IPT does not aim to address your inner issues as a result of prior experiences. Rather, it emphasizes your current relationships, how they may be affecting your symptoms of depression, and how you might enhance your interactions to achieve a more positive mental state.

Depression is not only a “personal issue,” but can also be triggered by relational troubles, according to interpersonal therapy.

IPT has been shown to be useful in the treatment of a variety of depressive disorders, as well as many other mental health problems. In some cases, this form of therapy may be effective when paired with medicines.

IPT was reported to be effective as CBT for the management of depression in a 2013 evaluation of the data and might be suggested as a first-line treatment for depressive disorders. According to certain studies, interpersonal treatment can help avoid the onset of serious depression. Regular participation in IPT may also assist to prevent depressive relapses.

IPT has been shown to be efficacious in the management of eating disorders, substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, and other mental health diseases, according to research. Couples that participate in IPT have been proven to be less depressed and have fewer relationship problems.



The Balance RehabClinic is a leading provider of luxury addiction and mental health treatment for affluent individuals and their families, offering a blend of innovative science and holistic methods with unparalleled individualised care.


a successful and proven concept focusing on underlying causes


0 Before

Send Admission Request

0 Before

Define Treatment Goals

1 week

Assessments & Detox

1-4 week

Psychological & Holistic Therapy

4 week

Family Therapy

5-8 week


12+ week

Refresher Visit

Depression Insights

latest news & research on Depression
Best Depression Treatment Centers

The treatment facilities have a team of experienced mental health professionals in diagnosing and treating depression

read more
What Triggers Depression

read more
Depression Test

read more
Postpartum Blues vs. Depression

It is crucial to learn the difference between postpartum blues vs. depression, as the latter can be tough to manage and requires medical help.

read more


British Psychology Society
Institute de terapia neural
pro mesotherapie
Somatic Experience


Mallorca Zeitung
Khaleej Times
Entrepreneur ME
Express UK
Apartment Therapy
General Anzeiger
Metro UK
Marie Claire
National World
Woman & Home
Business Leader
Mirror UK
The Times
The Standard
The Stylist