IPT is designed for use by psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, nurses, internists, or other health professionals who have already achieved proficiency in some form of psychotherapy, have already learned the skills of listening and talking to patients, and have some clinical experience. Those who lack psychotherapeutic training can use interpersonal counseling (IPC; see Chapter 17). Table 25.1 summarizes requirements for IPT therapists.
The IPT therapist should have at least two years of clinical experience in psychotherapy for ambulatory depressed patients, or for patients with the diagnosis to which IPT is to be applied. For example, a therapist inexperienced in treating bulimia nervosa will need some exposure to and supervision for that diagnosis. Therapists are further evaluated by IPT training therapists to ensure that they meet an acceptable standard of clinical competence, including the ability to relate to patients with warmth, interest, and empathy; the ability to build a therapeutic alliance; and so forth. In addition, therapists should have a positive attitude about time-limited treatment and an open-minded approach to the use of interpersonal techniques. The IPT therapist should have no rigid attachment to an alternative therapeutic belief system. Finally, it is assumed that, on the basis of previous training and experience, the therapist recognizes his or her own strengths and weaknesses in relating to different kinds' of patients.