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What are the Goals of Interpersonal Psychotherapy?

Therapist conduction interpersonal therapy with three patients

Depressive disorder or depression is a common issue that many people face. It can happen to anyone and one does not have to face it alone. With the development of medical science, there are many anti-depressants that doctors prescribe for patients who face mental health disorders. These medicines are not addictive.

Along with anti-depressants, doctors often recommend psychotherapy to help the patient. Out of various forms of psychotherapies, Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is the one that stands out the most. Several goals of interpersonal psychotherapy benefit the mental health of the patient. This form of therapy helps address the issues that affect the symptoms of depression and empowers the patient to deal with interpersonal issues without letting them affect their mental health.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Developed at Yale University, interpersonal psychotherapy was a game-changer for people suffering from mental health issues. At the onset, there were various goals of interpersonal psychotherapy. It was meant to ensure that the patients do not relapse back into a depressive disorder.

A whopping 21 million people are suffering from depressive disorder worldwide. This is a disorder that can cripple the best of us. It has no discrimination against anyone’s gender, race, age, or status. Healthcare professionals nowadays prescribe interpersonal psychotherapy along with medications for people suffering from mental health issues. The Goals of interpersonal psychotherapy often align with the overall mental well-being of the patient.

Interpersonal Therapy works towards the mental well-being of the patient. The personal and professional relationships of an individual affect his or her mental health. The theory of interpersonal therapy is that once the quality of these relationships is improved, it automatically contributes towards improvement in the patient’s mental health.

How Does Interpersonal Psychotherapy Work?

How does IPT Works

Interpersonal therapy is a short-term treatment given to the patient alongside medications. A therapy lasts for 12-16 sessions that are conducted weekly. If the therapist needs that the patient may require more sessions, the sessions may be extended for 4 more weeks.

The typical first few sessions of Interpersonal Psychotherapy start with the therapist taking the patient’s interview. The interview is conducted to assess the patient’s past and the quality of the relationships the patient had in the past.

The therapist then encourages the patient to identify 1 or 2 main issues in their interpersonal relationships that are affecting their mental health. Once the issues are identified, the therapist works along with the patient to find solutions to these issues. The therapist may even suggest some adjustments to be made in the behavior of the patient to help them deal with these issues.

As the sessions progress, the therapist may adapt different strategies to help the patient. Towards the end of sessions, the therapist gradually decreases their interventions and allows the patient to assess their problems themselves and find solutions accordingly.

What are the Goals of Interpersonal Psychotherapy?

When Interpersonal Therapy was first developed, helping patients with major depressive disorders was one of the primary goals of interpersonal psychotherapy. It is a fact that difficulties in emotional as well as professional relationships can wreak havoc on the mental health of an individual. Interpersonal psychotherapy works towards stabilizing mental health during emotional difficulties.

Making behavioral changes and increasing confidence through therapy sessions are one of the many goals of interpersonal psychotherapy. These goals of interpersonal psychotherapy are facilitated by helping the patient develop an insight into how their professional and personal relationships are manifesting in the symptoms of depression.

The patients are given access to various tools to handle difficulties and conflicts in interpersonal relationships. The therapist may also encourage the patient to reconsider their expectations while handling conflicts and seek support wherever required.

Who can benefit from the Goals of Interpersonal Psychotherapy?

At the outset, people with major depressive disorders benefit from the goals of interpersonal psychotherapy. However, interpersonal therapy can also benefit people suffering from the following disorders:

  • People suffering from social anxiety or panic disorders arising from conflicts in interpersonal relationships
  • Sufferers of Bipolar Disorder
  • Teenagers and adults suffering from Eating Disorders like anorexia, bulimia, etc.
  • Expecting mothers experiencing Prenatal depression
  • New mothers suffering postpartum depression
  • People suffering from marital disputes and conflicts
  • People who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) arising from trauma from domestic violence, a traumatic event, or bereavement
  • Alcoholics
  • Depressive disorder arising because of being a caregiver
  • Depressive disorder as a result of a disease

In other words, mental health issues arising out of interpersonal issues and conflicts can be helped with interpersonal psychotherapy. Since the goals of interpersonal psychotherapy include boosting confidence, empowering the patient with conflict management, and improving the personal and professional relationships of the patient, this form of therapy is beneficial in managing mental health disorders.

What Disorders Can Be Treated by the Goals of Interpersonal Psychotherapy?

One of the key goals of interpersonal psychotherapy is to improve the quality of interpersonal relationships of an individual. If the relationships are beyond the scope of improvement, interpersonal therapy equips the patient with the necessary tools to handle such situations. This enables the individual to ensure that their interpersonal relationships do not adversely affect their mental health.

Although interpersonal therapy was developed to treat major depressive disorder, it can also treat the following mental health conditions:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Dysthymia
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Bipolar syndrome
  • Seasonal depression
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Anorexia
  • Substance and Alcoholism
  • Obsessive Compulsive disorder

Interpersonal therapy can treat mental health disorders that arise out of childhood trauma or a result of poor quality of personal and professional relationships.

How is Interpersonal Therapy Specifically Used in Addiction Treatment?

IPT for Addiction

Interpersonal therapy is often used in the treatment of various addictions. Addictions arise in cases where patients have a history of childhood trauma, fear, mental, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Addictions often have biophysical aspects.

In such cases, interpersonal therapy helps the patients understand the psychological and social repercussions of substance abuse and addictions. The therapist helps the patient address their internal conflicts that can help alleviate addictions.

As a result, the patient develops a better understanding of their thought patterns during interpersonal conflicts. This ensures that the patients do not relapse back into phases of addiction after their recovery.

How many sessions are typically required to attain the Goals of Interpersonal Psychotherapy?

Interpersonal psychotherapy is a short-term treatment administered to patients with mental health disorders alongside medications and anti-depressants. The therapist focuses on achieving all the goals of interpersonal psychotherapy within a span of 3 to 4 months.

Interpersonal therapy is typically spread over 12-16 weekly sessions that last for 1 hour or 45 minutes. The first few sessions are dedicated to understanding the patient and helping them open up about their interpersonal conflicts and how they are affecting their mental health.

In extreme cases, if the therapist deems fit, the sessions are extended for 4 more weeks to attain all the goals of interpersonal therapy.

What are the main categories of IPT?

Interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on the challenges that an individual faces when interacting with others. One of the main goals of interpersonal psychotherapy is to help the patient navigate through stressful situations in their personal and professional lives. To facilitate the same, the following are the main categories of Interpersonal Therapy sessions:

Conflicts in Personal or Professional Relationships

Disputes that occur in marital relationships, professional life, and personal relationships form a part of interpersonal disputes. The therapist encourages the patient to recognize the problem areas in these disputes that affect the mental health of the patient.

Changes in Surroundings and Roles

Sometimes, depressive disorder can arise due to role transitions. Changing cities, shifting workplaces, or even changing schools or colleges can trigger depression in some people. Goals of Interpersonal Psychotherapy can help the patient navigate through these stressful situations.

Grief due to loss or bereavement

The loss of a family member or a loved one can trigger the depressive disorder in many individuals. Interpersonal therapy can help the patients come to terms with this loss.

Unaccomplishment in Relationships

When the interpersonal relationships of the patient are not performing as per the expectations, the patient might feel a sense of “deficit” that can contribute to depression. Interpersonal therapy can help the patient to navigate and handle such situations without letting it affect their mental health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does interpersonal therapy help with?

Interpersonal therapy helps in resolving conflicts, improving communication skills, and enhancing personal and professional relationships.

Why is Interpersonal Therapy important?

Interpersonal therapy is important alongside medications as it helps the patient identify the problem areas in their relationships.

Who is the founder of Interpersonal Therapy?

The founders of Interpersonal Therapy are Gerald L. Klerman and Myrna M. Weissman.


Depressive disorder is one of the most common mental health disorders worldwide. Other than depressive disorders, adults and teenagers worldwide are facing various mental health disorders like bulimia nervosa, bipolar disorder, anorexia,

Mental health disorders can prevent individuals from living their best quality of life and performing to their highest potential. Interpersonal therapy can help individuals navigate through their mental health issues. It is truly beneficial for adults worldwide. It aids in recovery from mental health issues and ensures that the individual does not relapse after recovery.

Calusa Recovery’s programs for drug and alcohol therapy focus on giving enough importance and help to the patient and the people around him. Following physical sobriety, we emphasize character development because it advances the body, mind, and soul. In recovery, insecurities, anxieties, and fears need to be addressed. Calusa’s special “Recovery Matrix” program will make you into a whole new person.

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