Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is an effective treatment for depression. It is based on the idea that the symptoms of depression have multiple causes, usually associated with something going on in a person’s life and more specifically, due to difficulties within relationships. IPT works on the understanding that the quality of interpersonal relationships can cause, maintain or protect against depression. The main aims of IPT are to reduce the symptoms of depression and to improve the quality of relationships.
The IPT sessions themselves are delivered face to face across the district. The therapy is time limited. Clients are offered up to sixteen sessions, each lasting for 50 minutes. The therapy is split into three phases:
The Initial Phase
The first 3 or 4 sessions of IPT involve a detailed assessment to help the client to understand their depression: the triggers, the symptoms and the things they can do to help themselves. The therapist will also help the client to evaluate their current support network.
The Middle Phase
Using the information gathered during the initial phase of therapy, the therapist will help the client to choose a focus area to work on during the 8 middle sessions of therapy. The four focus areas (or reasons why someone may become depressed) are:
- Conflict with another person
- Changes in current life situation
- Complicated Grief when the grieving process becomes stuck
- Difficulty starting or keeping relationships going.
The Ending Phase
The client and therapist work together to review the process of therapy and the changes already made. They will make a relapse prevention plan as a way of enabling the client to stay well.