IPT is a short-term form of treatment. It generally consists of 12 to 16 one-hour weekly sessions, with additional sessions added if needed.
You will work with your therapist during the first few sessions to gain an understanding of how interpersonal therapy works.
You will work together to identify specific interpersonal issues or problems you are currently experiencing. You will record all interpersonal issues in your life, rank them, and figure out which issues are most important to treat to address your depression.
By undergoing this process, you will be able to focus your remaining sessions on the issues you have identified that you want to work on the most.
You will learn how to more deeply understand the interpersonal issues you are facing, how to make adjustments in your life, and then actively apply those adjustments to your life. You should notice a change in your personal life and relationships at the end of your treatment based on this action-orientated approach.
Your therapist will use a range of different techniques to help you address your interpersonal issues, including
- Emotional identification: Your therapist will help you identify underlying emotions, where they come from, and how to move forward.
- Healthy expression: Your therapist will work with you to help you learn how to share and show emotions in a non-destructive manner.
- Dealing with the past: IPT primarily focuses on issues in the present, but you will also learn how your past can affect the present and how to look at present situations more objectively.
- Supportive listening: Your therapist will listen to your issues in a supportive manner.
- Communication analysis: How you communicate and express yourself to others can impact your interpersonal relationships. Your therapist will help you analyze your communication style. They will help you make adjustments to improve your interpersonal relationships.
- Encouragement of affect: This is about providing you with a safe space to experience and deal with unpleasant and unwanted emotions and feelings. You will learn how to accept those feelings.
- Role-playing: Role-playing can be very useful to take what you learn in therapy and apply it to real-life relationships.
The heart of your sessions will be about addressing the issues you identified in your first few sessions and learning how to address them using the techniques you learn in IPT.
In the last few weeks of therapy sessions, you will deal with facing the end of therapy. You will explore what this loss means to you. You will also focus on how to apply the therapy.
After interpersonal therapy ends, you can supplement the process with ongoing maintenance. Ongoing maintenance consists of less frequent, ongoing sessions, where adjustments made during your short-term IPT are reinforced, and you get the support you need to continue implementing the strategies you learned during IPT.