About Interpersonal Therapy. By Michael Herkov, Ph.D

This article is a brief intro to Interpersonal Therapy. Interesting technique! Printed originally on Psychcentral.com.

About Interpersonal Therapy

By Michael Herkov, Ph.D
December 10, 2006

Interpersonal therapy focuses on the interpersonal relationships of the depressed person. The idea of interpersonal therapy is that depression can be treated by improving the communication patterns and how people relate to others.

Techniques of interpersonal therapy include:

  • Identification of Emotion — Helping the person identify what their emotion is and where it is coming from.Example — Roger is upset and fighting with his wife. Careful analysis in therapy reveals that he has begun to feel neglected and unimportant since his wife started working outside the home. Knowing that the relevant emotion is hurt and not anger, Roger can begin to address the problem.
  • Expression of Emotion — This involves helping the person express their emotions in a healthy way.Example — When Roger feels neglected by his wife he responds with anger and sarcasm. This in turn leads his wife to react negatively. By expressing his hurt and his anxiety at no longer being important in her life in a calm manner, Roger can now make it easier for his wife to react with nurturance and reassurance.
  • Dealing With Emotional Baggage — Often, people bring unresolved issues from past relationships to their present relationships. By looking at how these past relationships affect their present mood and behavior, they are in a better position to be objective in their present relationships.Example — Growing up, Roger’s mother was not a nurturing woman. She was very involved in community affairs and often put Roger’s needs on the back burner. When choosing a wife, Roger subconsciously chose a woman who was very attentive and nurturing. While he agreed that the family needed the increased income, he did not anticipate how his relationship with his own mother would affect his reaction to his wife working outside the home.
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