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What Is Interpersonal Therapy?

Two people engaged in interpersonal therapy

Because they are forming deep connections and meaningful relationships for the first time, adolescents are significantly affected by the state of their relationships. Depression can affect a teen’s relationships, reducing their ability to relate to others and communicate properly. Conversely, fractured relationships can cause depression and other mental health disorders to manifest. It can be challenging for adolescents to repair damaged relationships, especially when they do not yet have the tools to do so effectively. Interpersonal therapy (IPT), one of the leading treatments for depression in teens, approaches treatment from this perspective.

Because teenagers are growing and changing rapidly, they face a unique set of developmental issues. If you have observed your teen becoming depressed or anxious because of their relationships, it may be time to get them into an IPT program. Imagine Fort Collins offers support for teens and their family members as they try to navigate this difficult time in their life. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team of mental health professionals for help. Contact us at 970.680.5887, and someone from our experienced team can walk you through the treatment options for a wide range of common mental health disorders that affect teens.

What Is Interpersonal Therapy?

IPT is a form of psychotherapy or “talk therapy” that attempts to address the symptoms of depression or other mental health disorders. It improves interpersonal functioning and focuses on current problems and relationships instead of a patient’s past trauma and upbringing. The idea behind IPT is that the patient’s depression happens within the context of their relationships. After learning and applying effective strategies to deal with their relationship problems, the patient’s symptoms should improve.

In light of the core idea around IPT, the therapist organizes treatment around the patient’s relationship difficulties, which helps to direct the patient to achieve their goals. There are four areas of conflict that typically trigger relationship and mental health issues:

  • Relationship conflicts that result in stress
  • Life changes that affect the patient’s relationships
  • Inability or deficiency when starting or maintaining relationships
  • Grief after the loss of a loved one

But what is dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT), and how does it differ from simple IPT? Both of these therapeutic approaches often result in brief or time-limited treatment programs for patients. Time-limited means a definite end to the treatment and a focused effort to achieve the patient’s goals before that time. IPT programs provide acute care and typically last anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks but can be offered to certain patients in as few as eight sessions. In general, DIT programs comprise 16 sessions.

Who Benefits the Most from Interpersonal Therapy?

IPT was initially intended as a treatment for major depressive disorder, also called clinical depression. Over time, experts have found it to be effective in treating several other conditions, including:

  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use disorders (SUDs)
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder

What sets interpersonal therapy apart from cognitive and behavioral therapeutic interventions is that it addresses negative thoughts and behaviors as they apply to interpersonal relationships. This process allows treatment to revolve around the patient’s areas of conflict, helping teach them how to make positive changes that uplift their mood and improve relationships.

What to Expect During Interpersonal Therapy

This form of treatment is delivered in one-on-one sessions with a therapist. Your teen can expect to have homework, assessments, and interviews with their therapist. The first phase of therapy usually involves a couple of sessions for the therapist to determine the extent of the depressive symptoms and problem areas in the patient’s relationships. Once the therapist has an accurate picture of the patient’s needs and problem areas, they will implement treatment strategies that address these areas.

The patient and therapist will work to develop solutions to the identified problem areas, and the patient will attempt to implement these solutions between each session. During each session, the therapist will ask the patient about their symptoms of depression. The patient will also be encouraged to share whether or not strategies they learn in sessions have been working when they put them into practice.

Learn More About Interpersonal Therapy at Imagine Fort Collins

If your teen struggles with depression due to changing relationships, losing a friend, or experiencing romantic difficulties, they may benefit from interpersonal therapy. The outpatient treatment center of Imagine Fort Collins offers interpersonal therapy and other comprehensive treatment programs. Our hardworking, genuine, and passionate team members are committed to helping teens recover from various mental health disorders. Imagine Fort Collins is here for you and your family. Don’t hesitate to contact us at 970.680.5887.