Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) was first developed as a time-limited research treatment for depression by the late Gerald L. Klerman, M.D., Myrna Weissman, Ph.D., and colleagues. Since its efficacy has been demonstrated in numerous controlled clinical trials, IPT has been modified to treat different types of mood and non-mood disorders. These research advances, together with the ascendancy of managed care and its concern to reduce mental health costs, have accelerated clinical interest in IPT techniques and applications.
The idea underlying IPT is simple: psychiatric syndromes such as depression, however multidetermined their causes, usually occur in a social and interpersonal context. A marriage breaks up; a friendship dissolves; children leave home; a job is lost; a loved one dies; a person moves, is promoted, or retires. In IPT, patients learn (1) to understand the relationship between the onset and fluctuation in their symptoms and what is currently going on in their life--their current interpersonal problems--and (2) to find ways of dealing with the interpersonal problems, and thereby with the depressive symptoms.
IPT was first described in Interpersonal Psychotherapy of Depression by Gerald L. Klerman , Myrna M. Weissman, Bruce J. Rounsaville, and Eve S. Chevron ( Basic Books, 1984). Since then, it has become a growth industry. Accordingly, what began as a modest revision of that book has matured into a comprehensive guide. It opens with an overview and outline of IPT's theoretical framework and strategies, which were designed specifically for the treatment of major depression in outpatients. This core application is then elaborated more fully than in the 1984 manual, with added case material. The clinical scripts assume the general clinical competence of the psychotherapist and must be used judiciously. Cases have been disguised or consolidated to preserve patient confidentiality.