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Relational & Interpersonal Therapy

Interpersonal or Relational Therapy is an evidenced-based and focused treatment for mood disorders. The main goals of this therapy is to address the quality of a client’s interpersonal relationships and social functioning to help decrease overall distress. Below are key areas of focus of interpersonal therapy:

  • Focus on interpersonal difficulties, including unfulfilling relationships, conflict in relationships, and social isolation.
  • It can help manage unhealed grief and loss centered around others.
  • It can also help with learning to adjust to life transitions.

When Is It Used

Originally, interpersonal therapy was developed to help treat major depressive disorder. And more recently, has shown to be just as effective with eating disorders, perinatal depression, substance use, dysthymia, and other mood conditions. IPT differs from other psychotherapy approaches, in that it explores current relationships, and recognizes internal conflicts without directly focusing on them in treatment.

This approach differs from cognitive behavioral therapy, as it addresses unhealthy thoughts and behaviors only as they impact interpersonal relationships. IPT aims to change relationship patterns and is less directive, rather than the associated depressive symptoms, and targets relationship difficulties associated with these symptoms.

An interpersonal therapist can help the client identify any interpersonal issues they want to address, and rank them in order of importance. The therapist can also offer support regarding clarification of issues, communication skills, and supportive listening.