Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) assumes that people need other people to feel good. Depression can develop when relationships with significant others are severely disrupted. Think of the loss of a loved one or a conflict, for example.

IPT does not focus on the past, but on the here-and-now instead. It focuses on a recent reason that may have contributed to the depression. The idea behind this is that we cannot change the past, but we can influence the present.

IPT process

The IPT process starts with making an inventory of all people who are or were important in your life. Particular attention is paid to any changes which occurred prior to the start of your complaints. After a number of conversations about your social network, the focus of the treatment will be determined.

To determine this focus, a number of important questions are asked:

  1. Has there been a change in your relationships with significant others? Has an important person disappeared (due to death or divorce, for example) or has there been other changes in regard to your relationships with the people around you?
  2. Did the change happen relatively recently and did this coincide with the onset of the depression?
  3. Is the change emotionally charged?

IPT is a short-term treatment, therefore, it is often the case that not all your problems are discussed. Experience shows that this is often not necessary; by solving the most central problem, you often find enough motivation to solve the others yourself.

Themes within IPT

Four possible central themes are distinguished within IPT:

  • Mourning a significant loss;
  • A conflict with a significant other;
  • A big change in social roles, or;
  • A shortage in interpersonal relationships.

With the help of your practitioner, you will work out which theme fits your complaints the best.

Sources: Keijsers, G. P. J., Van Minnen, A., Verbraak, M., Hoogduin, C. A. L. & Emmelkamp, P., (2017). Protocollaire behandelingen voor volwassenen met psychische klachten.

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