Interpersonal Therapy for Depression

Status: Strong Research Support


Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) for depression was developed by the late Gerald Klerman and Myrna Weissman. IPT recognizes that depression arises from multiple influences, but the emphasis is placed on understanding and treating depression within an interpersonal context. Patients are taught to view depression as a medical disorder rather than a characterological problem and at the same time are motivated to work toward change and symptom reduction. The initial sessions are devoted to taking a detailed interpersonal inventory and formulating the patient's depression in interpersonal terms related to four main interpersonal domains: 1) complicated grief, 2) interpersonal disputes, 3) role transitions, and 4) interpersonal deficits. Therapist interventions include clarification, supportive listening, encouragement of affect, role playing, and communication analysis. IPT is structured and manualized but is less directive than cognitive and behavioral therapies. IPT typically includes 12 to 16 sessions. It is available in individual and group formats and has been applied to geriatric populations.

Key References (in reverse chronological order)

Geriatric Depression

Clinical Resources

Hinrichsen, G.A., & Clougherty, K.F. (2006). Interpersonal psychotherapy for depressed older adults. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Markowitz, J. C. (2003). Interpersonal psychotherapy for chronic depression. Journal of Clinical Psychology: In Session, 59, 847-858.

Weissman, M. M., Markowitz, J. C., & Klerman, G. L. (2000). Comprehensive guide to interpersonal psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.

Wilfley, D.E., Mackenzie K.R., Welch R.R., Ayres V.E., & Weissman M.M. (2000). Interpersonal psychotherapy for group. New York: Basic Books.

Training Opportunities

Training opportunities, treatment manuals, and other materials can be found at the International Society for Interpersonal Psychotherapy website.

Training Video:
Gregory A. Hinrichsen. Interpersonal psychotherapy for older adults with depression. Produced by American Psychological Association's APA Psychotherapy Videos, April 2007.