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Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is an empirically validated treatment for a variety of psychiatric disorders. The evidence for IPT supports its use for a variety of affective disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders, and for a wide range of patients from children and adolescents to the elderly. The evidence base for IPT supports its use from age 9 to 99+.
Interpersonal therapy focuses on the interpersonal relationships of the depressed person. The idea of interpersonal therapy is that depression can be treated by improving the communication patterns and how people relate to others.
Techniques of interpersonal therapy include:
Identification of Emotion — Helping the person identify what their emotion is and where it is coming from.
Example — Roger is upset and fighting with his wife. Careful analysis in therapy reveals that he has begun to feel neglected and unimportant since his wife started working outside the home. Knowing that the relevant emotion is hurt and not anger, Roger can begin to address the problem.
Expression of Emotion — This involves helping the person express their emotions in a healthy way.
Example — When Roger feels neglected by his wife he responds with anger and sarcasm. This in turn leads his wife to react negatively. By expressing his hurt and his anxiety at no longer being important in her life in a calm manner, Roger can now make it easier for his wife to react with nurturance and reassurance.