The interpersonal psychotherapy is a therapy time bound, which usually last for fourteen to sixteen weeks and bases itself on the alliance between the patient and the therapist. During these therapeutic sessions, the therapist uses empathy to connect to the patient and, thus, makes the patient connect to him, too. He tries to make the patient feel that he is understood, tries to develop affects and feelings while bringing a clear vision and perspective both on the problem, as well as on its resolution. By sharing successful experiences, the therapist encourages the patient to seek best resolutions for his problems.
The interpersonal psychotherapy of depression has been developed during a research project for collaborative depression in which persons like Myrna Weissman and Gerald Klerman. The main focus was the treatment of ambulatory non-psychotic, depressed, non-bipolar patients.
The genesis of the interpersonal therapy was located at Yale University in 1969, when Dr. Paykel came to join Dr. Klerman (who worked at the university) in a study that should asses the efficacy of an antidepressant in two different situations, with or without having psychotherapy as a treatment for non-bipolar depression in ambulatory patients.
Interpersonal psychotherapy combines elements from two other therapies, the psychodynamic and the cognitive behavioral ones, more precisely the fact that it is time dependable (predefined timeline) and the use of homework, assessment tools and structured interviews.
The interpersonal therapy has been carefully studied over the past two decades, in order to see its efficiency and it has proven that very good results are obtained not only in patients suffering from depression, but other psychiatric disorders as well: dysthimya, substance abuse, bulimia and others. Also, these results were obtained with more patient groups: teenagers, elders and one in primary medical care. This therapy was used at first only with predefined time period – no more than sixteen weeks, but then it was also used as a maintenance therapy for recurrent depression patients.
A study on the effect of interpersonal therapy was conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health in order to observe the outcome of the use of this therapy and good results in treating depression, as well as delaying or preventing negative consequences came up. The study compared this therapy with the cognitive behavioral one, the placebo and the imipramine. The interpersonal therapy showed great improvement in the first six weeks in treating depression’s acute symptoms, while the improvement of the psychosocial function showed after the entire (sixteen weeks) period.
Two big advantages of IPT are the fact that it is different from the cognitive behavioral therapy homework (which is too much similar to the school and is resented by adolescents) and it has little to none technical terminology, which makes patients feel more comfortable. In his studies on bulimia, Fairburn declares that both therapists and patients chose IPT over CBT and this positively affected the therapist’s morale.
In treating depression, the interpersonal therapy can take a lot of time and effort from the patient, in order for him to fully recover, because it engages negative past feelings and canal so do some harm for the time being, but in the long run it aims for full recovery.