In our previous article on mental health, we shed some light on transference-focused psychotherapy — laying the groundwork for us to learn further about the different types of therapy one could adopt to manage mental health issues.
Mood disorders can occur at any point in life; triggered by the experiences life throws at us. This article would highlight interpersonal psychotherapy as an effective way of dealing with mood disorders.

Mood instability or disorders

We are all one traumatic experience away from a mood disorder. From grief, to feelings of isolation from others, to unsettling transitions in life; anything can happen to change the course of our moods and mental health. Which is why there’s no need to stigmatize people going through this — as it doesn’t mean they are ‘mad’ as some people would insensitively say.

Interpersonal psychotherapy

BetterHelp defines interpersonal psychotherapy as a type of treatment which is designed to help people who struggle with various mood disorders. A focal point of this type of therapy involves improving the quality of relationships with others and helping the patient better themselves in social settings.

How interpersonal psychotherapy works

This treatment, which lasts for three to four months, approximately, has three phases of progress.
Phase One of the treatment focuses on the patient’s life — taking a look at recurring themes and patterns in their relationships and interactions with others, past traumas, and the presence of depressive symptoms.
Here, the patient is required to be willing to open up to the therapist. In the case of patients who have issues interacting with others, this can be a challenging task. For this reason, the patient must be encouraged to willingly push themselves to let the therapist in — in order to be helped.
Phase Two depends on the success of the previous phase. This stage of the interpersonal psychotherapy treatment would be about implementing solutions for the various discovered during phase one. The patient’s history as well as what they are currently struggling with will determine the nature of the suggested treatment.
Solutions take time and when going through this phase of treatment, it is important for the patient to understand and appreciate that. Also, while it is true that suggested solutions may not always be easy or comfortable, the patient needs to know that by pushing themselves and doing the work, they will eventually notice improvements and the steps being taken forward.
It is not always easy to improve the quality of one’s interpersonal relationships, however, it certainly makes the  necessary difference and helps one to have a more fulfilling quality of life in the long run.
When the results of Phase Two begin to materialize then, Phase Three of interpersonal psychotherapy treatment will come along. Depending on what goes on at this point, the aims of the treatment might take a slight or completely different change.
Generally, people struggling with interpersonal relationships have more than one area holding them back. For this reason, once an issue has been thoroughly addressed, the proper thing to do is to move on to the next in order to ensure that the psychotherapy process is effective.
Two phases of treatment have already been completed successfully, so, by this stage, it is expected that patients who undergoing interpersonal psychotherapy would feel a lot more comfortable than they did during the previous phases. This is the point in the treatment process where results should start manifesting. It is the most important thing at this stage as it will provide a sense of confidence in the patient because they see their self getting better as well as bettering their interpersonal skills.

Where interpersonal psychotherapy is needed

Painful life transitions

People undergoing very upsetting life transitions will find this treatment helpful. For example, haing to deal with the passing away of loved ones, the end of important relationships or divorce, and the loss of a job, etc. employment and more. While the extent of therapy required by individuals undergoing the above transitions may not be as rigorous and involving as that of those with serious interpersonal issues, the treatment — for a series of reasons — can still be effective.

Interpersonal relationship conflicts

Conflict exists within interpersonal relationships for various reasons. Some are due to misunderstandings and others because of growing apart from one another or unresolved issues. Whatever may be the reason, it is best to work with a professional who can help both parties arrive at a resolution that works for both sides.
Interpersonal psychotherapy specialists are highly qualified individuals when it comes to assisting in conflict situations.

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This article on interpersonal psychotherapy is part of a series is developing to educate the public about mental health.
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