The aim of IPT is to reduce depressive symptoms and improve the quality of relationships with others.
IPT is most helpful when depression is the primary presenting problem and a person is comfortable sharing information about their depression. IPT is less likely to be helpful for clients whose primary problem is not depression e.g. anxiety disorder or depression in the context of personality disorder or clients who are isolated socially and who do not wish to focus on developing a social network throughout treatment, or for clients who need to focus on past events.
IPT is a structured, here-and-now, goal-focused treatment for major or recurrent depression. Standard treatment is 16 sessions. IPT is appropriate for people whose current episode of depression has been triggered by or is maintained by interpersonal events.
There are four focal areas within IPT and work is focused on one area.
- Transitions – any life change where a person has become depressed and unable to adjust to the change. Common examples are relationship breakups, job changes, moving home, changes to health, having a baby.
- Disputes – this is an active dispute with a significant other e.g. partner, family member, boss.
- Complicated bereavement – a significant person has died and the client is depressed and unable to move on.
- Sensitivities and deficits – this is where a person has often struggled for much of their lives to make and keep relationships with others going – not just partners but friends, colleagues, neighbours etc.