Interpersonal therapy (IPT) primarily focuses on the way our relationships affect us and how other mental health difficulties affect our relationships.
It is a structured, time-limited therapy (usually 12-16 sessions) that typically works intensely on established interpersonal issues, with the underlying belief being that psychological symptoms are often a response to difficulties in interacting with others. The resulting psychological difficulties can then affect the quality of these interactions leading to a vicious cycle. The main tenet of interpersonal therapy is that once you can interact more effectively with those around you, the psychological symptoms will improve.
Due to the time-limited nature of IPT, it is usually best suited to those with a specific and identifiable problem. The first few sessions of interpersonal therapy are typically used as a means of assessment – allowing the therapist to gain a better understanding of what is concerning you and what you hope to gain from the therapy. Together with your therapist, you will then have the opportunity to identify any interpersonal issues you want to address and rank them in order of importance. It will then be a case of working through the key issues raised.
Interpersonal therapists have several techniques at their disposal in order to help you identify your emotions, express your emotions, and deal with issues from the past.
Interpersonal therapy is particularly beneficial in helping with conflicts, interpersonal disputes, role transitions (e.g. a job change, a change in relationship, etc), grief, and interpersonal deficits (such as a poor relationship with a family member or friend).