Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) assumes that the development and maintenance of some psychiatric illnesses occur in a social and interpersonal context and that the onset, response to treatment, and outcomes are influenced by the interpersonal relations between the patient and significant others.
The overall goal is to reduce or eliminate psychiatric symptoms by improving the quality of the patient’s current interpersonal relations and social functioning.
This therapy moves through three defined phases: (1) The initial phase is dedicated to identifying the problem area that will be the target for treatment; (2) the intermediate phase is devoted to working on the target problem area(s); and (3) the termination phase is focused on consolidating gains made during treatment and preparing the patients for future work on their own.
IPT is concerned with the ‘interpersonal context’—the relational factors that predispose, precipitate and perpetuate the patient’s distress. In addition, the treatment also aims to assist patients to improve their social support network so that they can better manage their current interpersonal distress.