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)

  • Parker, G., Parker, I., Brotchie, H., & Stuart, S. (2006). Interpersonal psychotherapy for depression? The need to define its ecological niche. Journal of Affective Disorders, 95, 1-11 (review article).
  • Cutler, J. L., Goldyne, A., Markowitz, J. C., Devlin, M. J., & Glick, R. A. (2004). Comparing cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and psychodynamic psychotherapy. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161, 1567-1573.
  • Hollon, S. D., Thase, M. E., & Markowitz, J. C. (2002). Treatment and prevention of depression. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 3, 39-77. (review article)
  • Kupfer, D. J., Frank, E., Perel, J. M., Cornes, C., Mallinger, A. G., Thase, M. E., McEachran, A. B., & Grochocinski, V. J. (1992). Five-year outcome for maintenance therapies in recurrent depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 49, 769-773.
  • Shea, M. T., Elkin, S. D., Imber, S. D., Sotsky, J. T., Watkins, J. F., Collins, P. A., et al. (1992). Course of depressive symptoms over follow-up: Findings from the National Institute of Mental Health Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program. Archives of General Psychiatry, 49, 782-787.
  • Frank, E., Kupfer, D. J., Perel, J. M., Cornes, C., Jarrett, D. B., Mallinger, A. D., et al. (1990). Three-year outcomes for maintenance therapies in recurrent depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 47, 1093-1099.
  • Elkin, I., Shea, M. T., Watkins, J. T., Imber, S. D., Sotsky, S. M., Collins, J. F., et al. (1989). National Institute of Mental Health Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Program: General effectiveness of of treatments. Archives of General Psychiatry, 46, 971-982.
Geriatric Depression
  • Reynolds III, C. F., Dew, M. A. Pollock, B. G. Mulsant, B. H.; Frank, E., Miller, M. D., et al. (2006). Maintenance treatment of major depression in old age. New England Journal of Medicine, 354, 1130-1138
  • Scogin, F, Welsh, D., Hanson, A. Stump, J. & Coates, A. (2005). Evidence-based psychotherapies for depression in older adults. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 12, 222-237.
  • Hinrichsen, G.A. (2000). Interpersonal psychotherapy in the treatment of late life depression. Innovations in Clinical Practice, 18, 21-31.
  • Reynolds, C. F., Miller, M. D., Pasternak, R. D., Frank, E., Perel, J. M., & Cornes, C., (1999). Treatment of bereavement-related major depressive episodes in later life: A controlled study of acute and continuation treatment with nortriptyline and interpersonal psychotherapy. American Journal of Psychiatry, 156, 202-208.


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 opportunitiestreatment 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.