Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is a time-limited, diagnosis-targeted, well studied, manualized treatment for major depression and other psychiatric disorders. Therapists help patients to solve an interpersonal crisis as a way of both improving their lives and relieving their symptoms. IPT helps patients to understand their emotions as social signals, to use this understanding to improve interpersonal situations, and to mobilize social supports. Its success in a series of research studies has led to its inclusion in numerous national and international treatment guidelines.
Time-limited: IPT typically is scheduled as a 12-16 week, once weekly therapy for acute major depression.
Diagnosis-targeted: IPT has demonstrated efficacy as an acute and as a maintenance treatment for major depression, and for patients from adolescence to old age; with adaptation, as an adjunct to medication for bipolar disorder; for bulimia and binge-eating disorders; and, with less research support, for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety disorders.
Well studied: The late Gerald L. Klerman, M.D., Myrna M. Weissman, Ph.D. and colleagues published the first randomized IPT trial in 1974. They found in initial studies that IPT was more effective than a placebo; that in combination with medication it fared better than either treatment alone; and that on one-year follow-up, IPT helped patients to build social skills, which medication did not. Since 1974 there have been more than 250 randomized controlled studies of IPT published by research groups around the world.