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Interpersonal Therapy: A Depression Treatment That Works

Interpersonal therapy
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Umar Javed



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The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs.Read more

Depression is a debilitating disorder that affects approximately one in ten adults [1*] in the USA. Fortunately, there are treatments available that can help reduce symptoms and improve the overall outlook.

One such first-line treatment to achieve better mental health for people with depression is interpersonal therapy. In this article, we will discuss this kind of therapy, how it works, and what the benefits are of using this therapy to treat depression.

Mental health experts are available to provide online depression help through interpersonal therapy.

How Does Interpersonal Therapy Work?

Interpersonal therapy, also known as IPT, is an evidence-based approach to treating depression. It is an effective form of psychotherapy that focuses on improving relationships between individuals and their environment. It is based on the premise that psychological problems are often caused by strained relationships or communication issues with other people.

IPT is a short-term, structured form of therapy that typically lasts between 12 and 20 sessions. During each session, the therapist and client work together to understand the current issues in the patient’s life and relationships that are contributing to depression. The therapist helps identify and analyze the patterns of communication in the person’s relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. After that, the therapist helps the client develop new and more effective ways of communicating.

Research has found that IPT is effective in treating depression. Studies [2*] have shown that at least 55% of people who receive IPT show improvements in their symptoms and that these improvements are maintained for up to 1 year.

Types of Interpersonal Psychotherapy

IPT is divided into two main types: dynamic and metacognitive.

  • Dynamic IPT is the most common type of IPT. It is based on the idea that psychological issues are caused by underlying conflicts in relationships. In dynamic IPT [3*] , the therapist works to help the patient identify and address these conflicts. This can include exploring past relationships, understanding current relationships, and developing new communication skills. The goal of dynamic IPT is to help the patient develop healthier relationships and improved self-awareness.
  • Metacognitive IPT is a newer form of IPT that focuses on a person’s thinking patterns. It is based on the idea that psychological issues are caused by the way a person processes information and the cognitive biases that result from this. In metacognitive IPT [4*] , the therapist works to help the patient identify and modify their thinking patterns. This can involve exploring cognitive distortions, developing self-reflection skills, and learning how to challenge negative thoughts. The goal of metacognitive IPT is to help the patient develop healthier thinking patterns and improved self-awareness.

Find the right type of IPT for you based on your needs — consult with a mental health professional today.

7 Interpersonal Therapy Techniques

There is a range of effective techniques of interpersonal psychotherapy [5*] to achieve treatment goals for depression:

  1. Non-directive exploration. This technique requires the therapist to use open-ended questions with the patient to gain more information about them and their circumstances. A question like, “What’s the most vivid memory in your life?” can facilitate an open dialogue which can be beneficial for the patient.
  2. Direct elicitation. Sometimes the therapist asks direct questions to gain more specific details and information from the patient. This can help ascertain when, how, and why something happened.
  3. Encouraging expression of affect. The therapist encourages the patient to express their feelings openly and without hesitation. The patient is assured that their emotions are valid and should be expressed.
  4. Clarification. Having moved on with the topic, the therapist listens to the patient and then provides clarification and reassessment of the patient’s behavior and patterns of communication. For example, “You laughed when talking about your husband leaving you. It doesn’t seem funny to me.”
  5. Communication analysis. This technique involves the therapist listening to the patient and then analyzing any problems in their communication. This makes it possible to identify issues and potential solutions.
  6. Decision analysis. The therapist helps the patient explore their options and decide on a course of action. This may include problem-solving skills that can be used in any IP area.
  7. Role-play. Role-play activities allow the therapist to help the patient prepare for real-life situations and gain the skills to deal with them.
Interpersonal therapy techniques

Benefits of Interpersonal Therapy

Here are the key advantages of interpersonal therapy for depression [6*] :

  1. Enhanced communication and social skills. IPT helps better understand your communication patterns and how to improve them. Improved communication can help interact with others more effectively and reduce social isolation.
  2. Improved self-esteem. Through IPT, you can learn how to appreciate your strengths and value yourself.
  3. Identified and resolved conflicts. IPT can help you identify and resolve conflicts with others.
  4. Recognized and changed dysfunctional relationships. With the help of IPT, you can learn to recognize and change unhealthy or dysfunctional relationships.
  5. Increased problem-solving skills. IPT can show you how to better handle any issues that arise in your relationships and your everyday life.

Take a step towards a healthier and happier life — try IPT today to experience the proven benefits of treating depression!


Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a highly effective, short-term treatment option for depression that focuses on improving relationships and communication to alleviate your symptoms. Whether it conflicts with loved ones or negative thought patterns, IPT provides you with the necessary tools and support to overcome them and achieve improved mental health.

At MEDvidi you can make a video appointment with an interpersonal therapist. They will analyze your medical history, screen your symptoms, and provide you with a comprehensive treatment plan. In case your condition requires medication treatment, your doctor can prescribe you meds. Consult with a therapist to determine the best type of IPT for you and take the first step toward recovery.


6 sources
  1. Trends in U.S. Depression Prevalence From 2015 to 2020: The Widening Treatment Gap. (2022)
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  2. The effectiveness of individual interpersonal psychotherapy as a treatment for major depressive disorder in adult outpatients: a systematic review. (2013)
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  3. The development of a brief psychodynamic intervention (dynamic interpersonal therapy) and its application to depression: a pilot study. (2011)
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  4. Metacognitive Therapy for Depression Reduces Interpersonal Problems: Results From a Randomized Controlled Trial. (2018)
    Source link
  5. Mechanisms of change in interpersonal therapy (IPT). (2013)
    Source link
  6. Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Depression: A Meta-Analysis. (2013)
    Source link
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Umar Javed



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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.