Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)

Scientific Rating:
1
Well-Supported by Research Evidence
See scale of 1-5
Child Welfare System Relevance Level:
Medium
See descriptions of 3 levels

About This Program

The information in this program outline is provided by the program representative and edited by the CEBC staff. Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) has been rated by the CEBC in the area of: Depression Treatment (Adult).

Target Population: Adults with depression

Brief Description

IPT is a time-limited and manual-specified psychotherapy developed initially for patients with major depressive disorder, but later adapted for other disorders and tested in numerous clinical trials. Designed for administration by trained mental health professionals, it can also be taught, with adaptations, to less trained health workers. IPT has been used with and without medication. IPT is based on the idea that the symptoms of depression have multiple causes. The onset of depressive symptoms is usually associated with a trigger in the patient’s current personal life. IPT helps the patient to identify and learn how to deal with those personal problems and to understand their relationship to the onset of symptoms. There are three phases:

  • The diagnostic and problem identification phase where a formulation and treatment contract are made
  • Identification of the problem area(s): grief, disputes, transition, or deficits, which is the focus of the middle phase
  • Termination

Program Goals:

The program representative did not provide information about the program’s goals.

Essential Components

The essential components of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) include:

  • Being time-limited, manualized, and diagnostic-based (usually depression)
  • Using an initial diagnostic evaluation
  • Relating the onset of symptoms to a problem area such as grief, disputes, transitions, and role deficits
  • Helping the patient develop skills for coping with and relieving depression
  • Using standard techniques (e.g., clarification, role play, decision analysis), but focusing on the here and now problems in relationship to the onset of symptoms
  • Using an interpersonal inventory conducted by the therapist to determine important people, both supportive and not, in the patient's life
  • Being a medical model
  • Can be used in individual or group treatment with the recommended group size being 12-15 participants
  • Adaptable for depressed adolescents, geriatric patients, pregnant, and postpartum depressed woman

Adult Services

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) directly provides services to adults (regardless of whether they are parents or caregivers) and addresses the following:

  • Depression

Delivery Settings

This program is typically conducted in a(n):

  • Hospital
  • Outpatient Clinic
  • School

Homework

This program does not include a homework component.

Languages

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) has materials available in languages other than English:

Danish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese

For information on which materials are available in these languages, please check on the program's website or contact the program representative (contact information is listed at the bottom of this page).

Resources Needed to Run Program

The typical resources for implementing the program are:

Therapeutic skills and a knowledge of the treatment

Minimum Provider Qualifications

Supervisors must be field experienced clinicians, psychologists, social workers, etc. (MD, PhD, MSW). Nurses and healthcare professionals not in the mental health field can be trained as well.

Education and Training Resources

There is a manual that describes how to implement this program, and there is training available for this program.

Training Contact:
Training is obtained:

This is tailored to the organization being trained.

Number of days/hours:

This is tailored to the organization being trained.

Implementation Information

Since Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is rated on the Scientific Rating Scale, information was requested from the program representative on available pre-implementation assessments, implementation tools, and/or fidelity measures.

Show implementation information...

Pre-Implementation Materials

The program representative did not provide information about pre-implementation materials.

Formal Support for Implementation

The program representative did not provide information about formal support for implementation of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT).

Fidelity Measures

The program representative did not provide information about fidelity measures of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT).

Implementation Guides or Manuals

The program representative did not provide information about implementation guides or manuals for Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT).

Research on How to Implement the Program

The program representative did not provide information about research conducted on how to implement Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT).

Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

This program is rated a "1 - Well-Supported by Research Evidence" on the Scientific Rating Scale based on the published, peer-reviewed research available. The program must have at least two rigorous randomized controlled trials with one showing a sustained effect of at least 1 year. The article(s) below that reports outcomes from an RCT showing a sustained effect of at least 1 year has an asterisk (*) at the beginning of its entry. Please see the Scientific Rating Scale for more information.

Child Welfare Outcome: Child/Family Well-Being

Show relevant research...

Two meta-analyses have been conducted on Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), showing that IPT effectively treats depression, both as an independent treatment and in combination with pharmacotherapy, and that it is as effective as Cognitive Therapy.

  • Cuijpers, P., Geraedts, A. S., van Oppen, P., Andersson, G., Markowitz, J. C., & van Straten, A. (2011). Interpersonal Psychotherapy for depression: A meta-analysis. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 168(6), 581-592.
  • Jakobsen, J. C., Hansen, J. L., Simonsen, S., Simonsen, E., & Gluud, C. (2011). Effects of Cognitive Therapy versus Interpersonal Psychotherapy in patients with major depressive disorder: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials with meta-analyses and trial sequential analyses. Psychological Medicine, 42(7), 1343-57.

In addition, a systematic review of IPT showed that IPT was superior to a placebo, similar to medication, and, overall, was more efficacious than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

  • de Mello, M. F., de Jesus, M. J., Bacaltchuk, J., Verdeli, H., & Neugebauer, R. (2005). A systematic review of research findings on the efficacy of interpersonal therapy for depressive disorders. European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 255, 75-82.

Numerous research studies have been conducted of IPT. The ten studies described in the section below are a selection of those most relevant to the topic area. For a complete listing of studies, please refer to:

  • Weissman, M. M., Markowitz, J. C., & Klerman, G. L. (2000). Comprehensive guide to Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Basic Books, New York, NY.
  • Weissman, M. M., Markowitz, J. C., & Klerman, G. L. (2007). A clinician’s quick guide to Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

*Weissman, M. M., Klerman,G. L., Prusoff, B. A., Sholomskas, D., & Padian, N. (1981). Depressed outpatients: Results one year after treatment with drugs and/or Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Archives of General Psychiatry, 38, 51-55.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 81

Population:

  • Age — 18-65 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified
  • Gender — Not Specified
  • Status — Participants were acutely depressed ambulatory patients with a diagnosis of nonbipolar, nonpsychotic acute primary major depression.

Location/Institution: The Connecticut Mental Health Center (Yale University), New Haven, CT, and Boston (MA) State Hospital (Tufts University)

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
A one-year follow-up was conducted on patients who received amitriptyline hydrochloride and/or Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), each alone and in combination, as part of a four-month clinical trial. There were no differential long-term effects of the initially randomized treatment on clinical symptoms one year later, since most of the patients were asymptomatic. While most patients were functioning reasonably well, there were some main effects of IPT on social functioning at the one-year follow-up. Patients who received IPT with or without pharmacotherapy were doing significantly better on some measures of social functioning. Study measures included the Raskin Depression Scale, the Hamilton Depression rating Scale, the Symptom Checklist, and the Social Adjustment Scale. Limitations include the naturalistic nature of the follow-up study, in which some patients received treatment during the follow-up year that was not related to the study.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 1 year.

*Blatt, S. J., Zuroff, D. C., Bondi, C. M., & Sanislow III, C. A. (2000). Short- and long-term effects of medication and psychotherapy in the brief treatment of depression: Further analyses of data from the NIMH TDCRP. Psychotherapy Research, 10(2), 215-234.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 162

Population:

  • Age — Mean=35 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 89% White
  • Gender — 70% Female
  • Status — Participants were referred from psychiatric outpatient services at the research sites, as well as self-referral and referral from other mental health facilities.

Location/Institution: University of Pittsburgh, George Washington University, University of Oklahoma.

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study examines analyses of previously unanalyzed data from the NIMH-sponsored Treatment for Depression Collaborative Research Program (TDCRP) from ratings by therapists, clinical evaluators, and patients at termination and at 18-month follow-up indicated no significant differences among these treatments in symptom reduction or ratings of current clinical condition. Measures included the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, Global Adjustment Scale, Hopkins Symptom Checklist, Beck Depression Inventory, and Social Adjustment Scale. Results indicated patients in Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) reported greater satisfaction with treatment, and patients in both IPT and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) reported significantly greater effects of treatment on their capacity to establish and maintain interpersonal relationships and to recognize and understand sources of their depression than did patients in the imipramine plus clinical management (IMI-CM) or placebo groups. Limitations include possible reporter bias, generalizability due to ethnicity and gender.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 18 months.

O'Hara, M. W., Stuart, S., Gorman, L. L., & Wenzel, A. (2000). Efficacy of Interpersonal Psychotherapy for postpartum depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 57, 1039-1045.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 120

Population:

  • Age — Intervention: Mean=29.4 years, Control: Mean=29.7 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not listed, article states that almost all were White.
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status — Participants were women giving birth in 4 Iowa counties between October 1994 and July 1997 were sent letters inviting them to participate.

Location/Institution: Four counties in Iowa

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study examines the effect of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) on postpartum women meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) criteria for major depression. Participants were randomly assigned to 12 weeks of IPT or to a waiting list condition (WLC) control group. Measures utilized include the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD), the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Postpartum Adjustment Questionnaire, and the Social Adjustment Scale-Self Report. Results indicate that IPT resulted in significant improvement in depressive symptoms relative to the WLC based on (1) the absolute reduction in symptom levels as measured by the HRSD and the BDI; (2) the proportion of women who responded to treatment reduction in symptom severity as measured by the HRSD and the BDI); (3) the proportion of women who met HRSD and BDI criteria for recovery; and (4) the proportion of women who no longer met DSM-IV criteria for major depression. Women assigned to the WLC group experienced little improvement over 12 weeks reduction in symptoms based on the HRSD and BDI, respectively),suggesting that recovery without treatment occurs slowly. Limitations include possible reporter bias, generalizability due to ethnicity, and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

*Browne, G., Steinera, M., Robertsa, J., Gafnia, A., Byrnea, C., Dunnf, E., & Kraemera, J. (2002). Sertraline and/or interpersonal psychotherapy for patients with dysthymic disorder in primary care: 6-month comparison with longitudinal 2-year follow-up of effectiveness and costs. Journal of Affective Disorders, 68(2), 317-330.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 707

Population:

  • Age — Mean=42.1 years (Range: 18–74 years)
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not Specified
  • Gender — Not Specified
  • Status — Participants were adults who were recruited from the patient roster of the Health Services organization, as well as self-referral from the general community based on advertisements.

Location/Institution: Primary care university-affiliated Health Services organization (HSO) located in a Southern Ontario, Canada community

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study examines the effects of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT), Sertraline alone, or Sertraline plus IPT combined on treating dysthymic disorder. Participants were randomized into the three treatment groups. Measures utilized include the Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), Social Adjustment Scale-self rating (SAS-SR), McMaster Family Assessment Device, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), and Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). At 2 years, 525 subjects were retained for follow-up. Results indicate that all three treatments provide symptom reduction for many people with Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) dysthymic disorder and/or depression. While there was no statistically significant difference between the effectiveness of Sertraline alone and the combination proof Sertraline plus IPT, the additional treatment cost of providing IPT was offset by a lower utilization of other health and social services. Limitations include high attrition rate and limited generalizability to others not in primary care settings.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 2 years.

Spinelli, M. G., & Endicott, J. (2003). Controlled clinical trial of Interpersonal Psychotherapy versus parenting education program for depressed pregnant women. American Journal of Psychiatry,160(3), 555-562.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 38

Population:

  • Age — Intervention: Mean=28.3 years, Control: Mean=29.3 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Intervention: 61.9% Latina, 28.6% Caucasian, and 9.5% African American; Control: 70.6% Latina and 29.4% Caucasian
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status — Participants were recruited from the outpatient clinics at the NY State Psychiatric Institute of Columbia University and other institutions in the NY metropolitan area. Some clients self-referred based on advertisements.

Location/Institution: New York, NY

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study compared a group receiving Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) for antepartum depression to a parenting education control program. Measures utilized include the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, the Clinical Global Impression (CGI), and the Hamilton Rating Scales for Depression. Results indicate that the IPT group showed significant improvement compared to the parenting education control program on all three measures of mood at termination. Recovery criteria were met in 60% of the women treated with IPT. Limitations include high attrition rate, generalizability due to gender and ethnicity and lack of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Bolton, P., Bass, J., Neugebauer, R., Verdeli, H., Clougherty, K. F., Wickramaratne, P., … Weissman, M. (2003). Group Interpersonal Psychotherapy for depression in rural Uganda. Journal of the American Medical Association, 289(23), 3117-3124.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 224

Population:

  • Age — Intervention: Mean=47.6 years; Control: Mean=45.4 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 100% African
  • Gender — Not specified
  • Status — Participants located in agreement with local leaders using government census data.

Location/Institution: Rural Uganda

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study examined the efficacy of group Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) in relieving depressive symptoms and improving functioning and evaluated the feasibility of such studies in sub-Saharan Africa. Randomization was done at the village level, with sample groups of men or women in each eligible village assigned to either the IPT intervention group or a no-treatment control group. Results indicate that the IPT group participants showed significantly greater improvements in depression scores than those in the control condition. Female IPT group members also showed greater improvement in all but one measured task (consoling the bereaved). Changes in task performance were not statistically significant for men. Limitations include no attempt was made to find out about any treatment control group participants might have sought for their symptoms during the study period, possible interviewer bias, and length of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: Within two weeks.

Bass, J., Neugebauer, R., Clougherty, K. F., Verdeli, H., Wickramaratne, P., Ndogoni, L., & Bolton, P. (2006). Group interpersonal psychotherapy for depression in rural Uganda: 6-month outcomes. British Journal of Psychiatry, 188, 567-573.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 216

Population:

  • Age — Intervention: Mean=47.6 years, Control: Mean=45.3 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 100% African
  • Gender — 50% Male and 50% Female
  • Status — Participants were identified by both local key informants and themselves as suffering from a depression-like syndrome.

Location/Institution: Rural Uganda

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study examines the long-term effectiveness of a community-based group Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) trial conducted in rural Uganda. The study aim was to determine whether the substantial treatment benefits found immediately following the formal intervention were maintained 6 months later. Randomization to the intervention or treatment as usual study arms was by village, so that all participants in each study village belonged to the same study arm. Measures utilized include Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL) and a gender-specific questionnaire assessing functional impairment on important activities. Results indicate that the IPT group showed significantly lower HSCL scores and functional impairment scores. Improvements in depression symptoms were maintained between 2 weeks and 6 months after the intervention. Limitations include possible effect of other therapies not evaluated, lack of control group and length of follow-up.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 6 months.

Toth, S. L., Rogosch, F. A., Oshri, A., Gravener-Davis, J., Sturm, R., & Morgan-López, A. A. (2013). The efficacy of interpersonal psychotherapy for depression among economically disadvantaged mothers. Development and Psychopathology, 25(4), 1065-1078.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 128

Population:

  • Age — Approximately 25 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 59.4% Black, 21.1% Hispanic, and 19.5% Other
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status — Participants were low-income urban women.

Location/Institution: Not specified

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
This study evaluated the efficacy of Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) for ethnically and racially diverse, economically disadvantaged women with major depressive disorder. Participants were women randomized to the IPT group or to the enhanced community standard (ECS) group, using a progressive block randomization procedure over the extended period of participant recruitment. Measures included the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), Beck Depression Inventory—II (BDI-II), Diagnostic Interview Schedule for DSM-IV (DIS-IV), Revised Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD-R), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Social Support Behaviors Scale (SSB), Social Adjustment Scale—Self-Report (SAS-SR), and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ). Results indicate women receiving IPT had significantly fewer depressive symptoms postintervention when compared to individuals in the ECS group, and these gains were retained and increased at the follow-up assessment. Limitations include more participants were randomized to treatment group than control group and small sample size.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 8 months.

Field, T., Diego, M., Delgado, J., & Medina, L. (2013). Peer support and interpersonal psychotherapy groups experienced decreased prenatal depression, anxiety and cortisol. Early Human Development, 89(9), 621-624.

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 44

Population:

  • Age — 18-40 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — 86% African American, 13% Hispanic, and 1% Non-Hispanic White
  • Gender — 100% Female
  • Status — Participants were depressed pregnant women.

Location/Institution: Not specified

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The purpose of the present study was to compare the effects of participating in peer support versus Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) groups on prenatal depression. Measures included the Structured Clinical Interview for Depression (SCID), Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), State Anxiety Inventory (STAI), State Anger Inventory (STAXI), and saliva samples were also collected to assess cortisol levels. Results indicate both groups had lower summary depression (CES-D) scores and lower anxiety (STAI) scores by the end of the treatment period. In addition, cortisol levels decreased for both groups after the last day session, although the decrease was greater for the peer support group. The groups did not differ on neonatal outcomes including gestational age and birth weight. Limitations include small sample size, lack of follow-up, and reliability of self-reported measures.

Length of postintervention follow-up: None.

Lemmens, L. H. J. M., Arntz, A., Peeters, F. P. M. L., Hollon, S. D., Roefs, A., & Huibers, M. J. H. (2015). Clinical effectiveness of cognitive therapy v. interpersonal psychotherapy for depression: results of a randomized controlled trial. Psychological Medicine, 45(10), 2095-2110. doi:10.1017/S0033291715000033

Type of Study: Randomized controlled trial
Number of Participants: 182

Population:

  • Age — 18-65 years
  • Race/Ethnicity — Not specified
  • Gender — Not specified
  • Status — Participants were individuals with depression.

Location/Institution: Maastricht Community Mental Health Centre, Netherlands

Summary: (To include comparison groups, outcomes, measures, notable limitations)
The purpose of the present study was to compare the effectiveness of Cognitive Therapy (CT) versus Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) on depression patients. Depressed adults were randomized to CT, IPT, or a 2-month waiting list control (WLC) condition. Measures included the Beck Depression Inventory-Second Edition (BDI-II), Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), Work and Social Adjustment Scale (WSAS), and the EuroQol-6D (EQ-6D). Results indicate that CT and IPT do not differ in the treatment of depression in the acute phase and beyond. Additionally, both treatments exceeded response in the WLC condition and led to considerable improvement in depressive symptoms that was sustained 5 months beyond the end of treatment. Limitations include reliance on self-reported measures, duration of the WLC condition was significantly shorter than the treatment time therefore a comparison of the full effects of treatment versus no treatment was not possible, and exclusion of patients receiving concomitant treatment and those using antidepressant medications which may reduce generalizability to the whole population of treatment-seeking depressed patients.

Length of postintervention follow-up: 8-12 months.

References

Weissman, M. M., Markowitz, J. C., & Klerman, G. L. (2000). Comprehensive guide to Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Basic Books, New York, NY.

Weissman, M. M., Markowitz, J. C., & Klerman, G. L. (2007). A clinician’s quick guide to Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.

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

Contact Information

Name: Myrna M. Weissman, PhD
Agency/Affiliation: Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons
Email:
Phone: (646) 774-6427
Fax: (212) 568-3534

Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: May 2016

Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: June 2015

Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: March 2010