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Interpersonal therapy to treat depression

by Sarah Graham
Monday 16 March 2015
784 0

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions, and the most searched for issue on RSCPP. If you are affected by depression, you may be experiencing low mood, loss of interest and pleasure in normal activities and, in more severe cases, suicidal thoughts. One of the treatments for depression, recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), is interpersonal therapy. We asked RSCPP's Chartered Psychologist Helen Macallan to explain what it is and how it works.

What is interpersonal therapy?

 Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) focuses on the 'here and now' - exploring your disputes, frustrations, anxieties and wishes, in relation to the significant others in your world. It aims to help you develop more effective strategies to deal with these interpersonal issues. Unlike most other therapies, this may include inviting significant others to one or more of the therapy sessions (only, of course, with your agreement).

Chartered Psychologist Helen Macallan


How can interpersonal therapy be applied to treating depression?

IPT starts by recognising that if you are experiencing depression, you not only have to cope with your own symptoms but also the way in which your depression both impacts and is influenced by your relationships with those around you. Drawing on well established approaches to understanding depression, IPT places particular emphasis on the your current interpersonal relationships, while not ignoring the symptoms of depression you are grappling with.

Chartered Psychologist Helen Macallan


How long does interpersonal therapy last?

It is a focused and time-limited therapy - most often 16 sessions.

Chartered Psychologist Helen Macallan


What outcome can I expect from interpersonal therapy as a treatment for depression?

Following interpersonal therapy you would hope to feel less weighed down by depression, to understand the way that depression has impacted you, and be more connected to your significant others. You may be more able to recognise the way that your patterns of interaction might contribute to or influence your mood, and may have found ways to talk together with them in more constructive ways. 

Chartered Psychologist Helen Macallan


How can I tell if a therapist is qualified to offer interpersonal therapy?

All therapists on are accredited, registered or chartered by a UK professional body. Therapists who offer interpersonal therapy will in addition have completed a course in interpersonal practice.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Richard Snowdon

Finding support

You can find out more about symptoms and causes of Depression, including how to find a therapist. If this route is not appropriate for you, your GP can assess you and direct you towards support.

Find a Therapist working with Depression

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Updated 16 March 2015