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Interpersonal Psychotherapy Techniques, Goals & Treatment in Tennessee

Interpersonal Psychotherapy Techniques, Goals & Treatment in Tennessee

What Is Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)?

Focused on resolving interpersonal conflict related to a person’s relationships, interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a time-restricted and evidence-based method used to treat mood disorders.1

Interpersonal psychotherapy was developed by Gerald L. Klerman, Myrna M. Weissman, and Eugene Paykel in the 1970s as a quick method for treating major depressive disorders in adults.2 Today, IPT is frequently advised as a treatment for pediatric depression because it has proven helpful in treating children with depression.3

IPT can be used in place of or in addition to medication as a therapy method. The therapist and client decide whether to use IPT, medicine, or a combination. However, most research suggests that medication and interpersonal psychotherapy may be more beneficial than using either alone.

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What Disorders Can Interpersonal Psychotherapy Treat?

IPT is a beneficial treatment for several different illnesses in addition to depression. It can also help deal with attachment issues, grief, life adjustment and changes, and relationship challenges.4 Furthermore, IPT can treat the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Perinatal and postpartum depression
  • PTSD
  • Dysthymia
  • Social phobia

How Does IPT Therapy Work?

A typical 12-16-week course of interpersonal psychotherapy consists of weekly, one-hour sessions. The treatment plan may be extended for an additional four or more weeks, depending on the severity of the depression.

Interpersonal therapy consists of three stages: formulation, middle, and graduation. Depending on the intensity of your symptoms and the level of interpersonal anxiety, each phase can last three to five sessions.5

Formulation Phase

In the first stage, you evaluate your state of mind and current circumstances. The therapist also learns about your history, sources of social support, and previous relationships. The psychoeducational component of relating symptoms to situations and relationships is also present.

Middle Phase

In the second stage, the therapist applies various treatment approaches when dealing with one of the four categories of distress: grief, role dispute, role transition, and interpersonal deficit. Every session normally starts with a question from the therapist regarding recent happenings in your life. The attention then shifts to how things have changed, whether you’ve noticed progress, and whether relationships have benefited. Your therapist will work with you to pinpoint interpersonal difficulties if there hasn’t been any improvement or if symptoms have worsened.

Graduation Phase

The focus on your increased confidence and sense of independence signals the conclusion of interpersonal treatment. If there hasn’t been a change, the therapy—not you personally—is to blame for the lack of improvement. If your symptoms do not go away throughout treatment, this does not indicate a personal failure. A client will frequently change therapists and develop a new treatment plan.

Interpersonal psychotherapy can be done online or in person. Although every therapist does their first session differently, you can anticipate being asked questions about yourself and discussing some of your stresses. You might also receive a structured questionnaire regarding your symptoms. Your therapist will make a connection between a diagnosis and a recent disturbing event in your life using an interpersonal psychotherapy approach. They will also list your close relationships, social networks, and relationship-specific behavioral patterns.

The initial sessions – which usually last about three to four weeks – evaluate your depression, familiarize you with the IPT protocols and procedures, and pinpoint any interpersonal issues or problems you’re experiencing. With the therapist, you will list your interpersonal problems, rate them, and choose one or two that seem to be the most pressing regarding your negative emotions.

The following sessions are devoted to dealing with those problems, learning more about them, looking for changes you can make, and then applying those changes. The therapist’s job during interpersonal therapy sessions is to be realistic and refrain from being overly instructive or reactive. Instead, therapists actively use various psychotherapy techniques, such as direction, teaching, reassurance, and behavioral strategies.

Interpersonal psychotherapy techniques could include the following:

  • Clarification
    • Assists you in recognizing and overcoming your biases when it comes to comprehending and explaining your interpersonal problems
  • Supportive listening
  • Role-playing
  • Communication analysis
  • Encouragement of effect
    • A procedure that enables you to feel uncomfortable or undesirable sentiments and emotions related to your interpersonal problems in a secure therapeutic setting. Doing so simplifies accepting such sensations and feelings as a natural part of your life experiences.

IPT Examples

Typically, an interpersonal psychotherapy treatment plan is developed according to the four types of conflict that IPT therapists believe frequently lead to problems in relationships and with mental health:

  • Grief: The loss of a loved one might result in depression. While going through the stages of grief in this kind of circumstance is expected, a significant loss can leave people with unresolved grief. This type of grieving remains long after the loss and is distorted or avoided. Avoidance means you may not feel emotions but instead deal with depression-related symptoms, including exhaustion and insomnia.
  • Role dispute: When you and the important people in your life have conflicting expectations for your relationship, role conflicts will arise. You might feel that your partner doesn’t give you enough affection leading to feelings of depression or anxiety. Depression symptoms might result from the mismatch between expectations and actual conduct.
  • Role transitions: Depression might happen when your role changes and you’re unsure how to handle the shift, which can occur during life transitions. Examples of role transitions include getting married, getting divorced, becoming a parent, and retiring.
  • Interpersonal deficits: IPT can assist in determining your interpersonal weaknesses if you struggle to establish and maintain healthy connections. This can include any insecurities you might have, whether you have trouble expressing your emotions, and any other thoughts or feelings getting in the way of you communicating clearly.

Goals & Benefits of Interpersonal Psychotherapy

IPT does little to explore the underlying issues brought on by previous traumatic experiences. Instead, its main objective is to enhance your social functioning and interpersonal relationships to lessen your emotional distress. Interpersonal therapy acknowledges that relationship problems can also contribute to depression, which is not always a “personal issue.”

Significant advantages of interpersonal psychotherapy include:

  • Better relationships: IPT can assist patients in realizing the impact their relationships have on their lives. The two objectives are improving patients’ social interaction and lessening depressive symptoms.
  • Reduced depressive symptoms: Relationships play a role in depression. In other words, having or losing relationships can affect your depression, which might affect your relationships. IPT aims to lessen your depression symptoms by enhancing your interpersonal relationships.

IPT Effectiveness & Success Rates

Numerous randomized controlled trials have demonstrated the efficacy of IPT in treating bulimia, mood disorders, and possibly other mental health disorders.

  • A first-line treatment for major depressive disorder can include IPT, according to a 2013 review of the research, which indicated that it was just as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).6
  • According to certain studies, interpersonal therapy can aid in preventing the onset of severe depression. In addition, regular therapy treatment may also help guard against depressive relapses.7
  • IPT decreases marital problems and improves depression when couples actively participate.8

The Cost of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) & Insurance Coverage

Depending on where you live, the price of therapy may vary significantly. Still, you should plan to spend between $75 and $175 every session. Asking about reduced pricing or a sliding scale for your interpersonal psychotherapy in Tennessee is a good idea because some therapists offer discounts to patients who meet certain criteria.

Many mental health psychologists are in network with health insurance companies, though not all accept insurance. Your insurance plan’s coverage details and deductible will determine how much you pay per session.

For the most accurate quote, filling out our free and confidential online insurance verification form is the best method to determine the specifics of your interpersonal psychotherapy insurance coverage. After completing the form, a care coordinator will review your policy and thoroughly explain your options for IPT therapy in Tennessee. Rest assured, all submitted or discussed information remains private.

How To Find The Best Interpersonal Psychotherapy Treatment in Tennessee

Finding mental health clinics in Tennessee has never been easier with Athena Care’s multiple locations. In-network with most major insurance plans, Athena Care’s expert care coordinators are here to help Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. You can find a list of practitioners organized by city, background, and specialty here.

In addition to inquiring about a therapist’s education, training, license, and years of experience before beginning interpersonal psychotherapy, consider asking the following important questions:

  • Which interpersonal psychotherapy interventions do you use?
  • How frequently do you recommend clients attend sessions?
  • Could you please describe your method of treatment?
  • Who is your ideal client to work with?
  • How much are you accustomed to interpersonal therapy?
  • What should I be aware of when working with you?
  • What aspect of working as a therapist do you enjoy the most?
  • How do you assist your clients in coping with traumatic events?
  • Do you specialize in other forms of therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)?
  • Which insurance companies do you work with, as well as office hours, prices, and session length?

Are Interpersonal Psychotherapy & Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Different?

Yes, they are different. The main difference between interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is their focus. While IPT focuses on relationship challenges, role transitions, loss and grieving, and increasing interpersonal skills, CBT focuses on identifying and eliminating unhelpful, automatic ideas that cause emotional distress.

The two treatment approaches have proven to be effective talk therapy methods for major depression and other disorders. But unfortunately, there’s little knowledge about how, when, and with whom they are most beneficial. This is especially true for IPT because there hasn’t been much research on its long-term treatment effectiveness.


  1. Psychology Today Staff. “Interpersonal Psychotherapy.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, LLC, www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapy-types/interpersonal-psychotherapy. Accessed 2 July 2022.
  2. Markowitz, John C., and Myrna M. Weissman. “Interpersonal Psychotherapy: Past, Present and Future.” Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, vol. 19, no. 2, 2012, pp. 99–105. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1002/cpp.1774.
  3. Saling, Joseph. “Interpersonal Therapy for Depression.” WebMD, WebMD LLC, 27 Sept. 2020, www.webmd.com/depression/guide/interpersonal-therapy-for-depression.
  4. Schimelpfening Nancy. “How Interpersonal Therapy Works.” Verywell Mind, Dotdash Media, Inc., 12 Aug. 2021, www.verywellmind.com/interpersonal-therapy-1067404.
  5. Powell, Alisha. “Interpersonal Therapy: How It Works, Cost, and What to Expect.” Choosing Therapy, Choosingtherapy.com, 25 Feb. 2021, www.choosingtherapy.com/interpersonal-therapy.
  6. Hees, Madelon L. J. M. van, et al. “The Effectiveness of Individual Interpersonal Psychotherapy as a Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder in Adult Outpatients: A Systematic Review.” BMC Psychiatry, vol. 13, no. 1, 2013. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-244x-13-22.
  7. Cuijpers, Pim, et al. “Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Mental Health Problems: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis.” American Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 173, no. 7, 2016, pp. 680–87. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15091141.
  8. Whisman, Mark A., and Steven R. H. Beach. “Couple Therapy for Depression.” Journal of Clinical Psychology, vol. 68, no. 5, 2012, pp. 526–35. Crossref, https://doi.org/10.1002/jclp.21857.

If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from mental health disorders, contact Athena Care today.

One of our friendly associates will help you get the help you need. Take this first step to feel better and take control. 

(615) 320-1155