Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal therapy is a short-term supportive psychotherapy that focuses on the connection between interactions between people and the development of a person’s psychiatric symptoms.

Interpersonal therapy is recommended for people with depression in national guidelines for doctors. Interpersonal therapy has also been modified for the treatment of a number of disorders, including substance abuse; bulimia and anorexia nervosa, bipolar disorder, and dysthymia. Interpersonal therapy is a descendant of psychodynamic therapy, itself derived from psychoanalysis, with its emphasis on the unconscious and childhood experiences.

Symptoms and personal difficulties are regarded as arising from deep, unresolved personality or character problems. The therapy can help you make up after arguments or assert yourself at work. It can also help you build stronger friendships or family ties so you have better social support.

In interpersonal therapy, interpersonal behavior is emphasized. A patient is assisted by the therapist in self-evaluating his or her interaction with others. Interpersonal therapy is, however, distinctive for its brevity and its treatment focus.

IPT emphasizes the ways in which a person’s current relationships and social context cause or maintain symptoms rather than exploring the deep-seated sources of the symptoms. Its goals are rapid symptom reduction and improved social adjustment.

IPT is based on the idea that interpersonal problems perpetuate the eating disorder and therefore changing these can lead to improvement and recovery. Interpersonal therapy teaches you how to relate better to the people in your life, including family, friends and workmates.


Interpersonal therapy used for the treatment of a number of disorders, including:

  • Adult depression.
  • Dysthymia.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Bulimia and anorexia nervosa.
  • Bipolar disorder.