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All You Need to Know About Online Interpersonal Therapy

Phi Atratus
  • Mar 28, 2022
  • 5 min read
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Interpersonal therapy (IPT) is a 12-to-16-session form of psychotherapy that’s used to treat depression and other mental health conditions. IPT therapy focuses on how the support we receive from our interpersonal relationships and social interactions influence our emotional well-being. 

Interpersonal therapy techniques were developed on the concept that a person's environment and relationships significantly impact their mental health. This is opposite to the conceptualization of many mental health professionals who claimed that this condition was solely based on the person's beliefs and attitudes.

Instead of attempting to uncover the deep roots of your inner conflicts resulting from past experiences, IPT therapy focuses on the interpersonal problems that are currently causing you emotional discomfort.

In this article, we’ll explain the different types of interpersonal therapy and how they can help you overcome the emotional consequences of depression and other mental health disorders.

What Are the Types of Online Interpersonal Therapy?

There are two different adaptations of interpersonal therapy: dynamic and metacognitive.

Dynamic interpersonal therapy

Dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT) is a time-limited therapy also referred to as psychodynamic interpersonal therapy. It helps you better understand your own thought processes and feelings, as well as the ideas and feelings of others. 

It generally consists of 16 weekly sessions over the course of five months.

Dynamic interpersonal therapy (DIT) focuses on the dynamic between you and your therapist to think about the problems you are currently struggling with. The therapist often draws your attention to what you think and feel during the session to better understand your concerns. 

Your therapist might not always answer your questions directly because they are interested in what lies behind your questions. This has proven to be a more helpful way to uncover the problems you are not comfortable enough externalizing.

Metacognitive interpersonal therapy

Metacognitive interpersonal therapy (MIT) is an integrative therapeutic approach to address personality disorders with prominent avoidance and emotional inhibition. 

This type of therapy aims to increase the awareness of your inner world to dismantle the core and embodied aspects of your depressive symptoms. MIT therapy provides you with techniques to overcome pain and act creatively in your everyday life by modifying your thoughts and behavior, as well as steering awareness to avoid falling prey to rumination, a common symptom of depression.

One 12-week study found that this form of therapy helped reduce depression symptoms and improve the ability to record your inner state and identify emotions.

IPT therapy can also be used as a form of couples therapy if you are struggling with marital troubles that contribute to depression.

How Does Online Interpersonal Therapy Work?

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) can be conducted in a variety of formats ranging from individual to group in-person sessions or through online therapy. 

This treatment lasts for approximately 12 to 16 weeks, and the sessions involve therapist interviews, regular assessments, and homework assignments.

During the first couple of sessions, your IPT therapist will get to know you better and learn more about your symptoms as well as your relationships. Afterward, you will work with them to address specific problems with strategies adapted as the treatment goes. Therefore, the assignments and goals of the online therapy may change as your therapist continues to evaluate your progress.

If you were treating your depression with interpersonal therapy, for example, it might take you some time to shift your focus and identify specific interpersonal issues fueling your condition. You and the therapist will create a record of your interpersonal problems, rank them, and work on them to overcome your depression.

Sometimes it can be beneficial to combine IPT therapy with other psychological depression treatments. If the depressive symptoms are severe, interpersonal therapy can be coupled with psychopharmacological treatment prescribed by a psychiatrist, as it shows a better response.

Motivation plays a huge role in the treatment progress, as it is impossible to change someone if they are not motivated to examine their role in their relationship dynamics. Also, some cases of depression may be recurrent conditions, so you may need monthly maintenance online therapy sessions to support progress and prevent relapse.

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What Are Online Interpersonal Therapy Techniques?

Interpersonal therapy heals depression by improving your relationships, which is why the treatment begins with an interpersonal inventory of your current and past significant relationships. Then, the counselor groups these relationships according to four problem areas.


Depression can be the result of the passing of someone we love or deeply care about. There are normal stages of grief that every person goes through in this type of situation, but for some of us, a significant loss can lead to unresolved grief.

This grief remains longer than expected after the person passes away, thus triggering depressive symptoms such as loss of interest, insomnia, or fatigue that must be treated.

Role dispute

Role disputes arise when you and the people you share your life with have opposite or different expectations about the relationship. For example, you feel like your partner should be more demonstrative in their affection while they claim that you are too demanding or clingy.

Failure to find a middle ground in your expectations can trigger depression.

Role transition

Depression may also occur during challenging life transitions that force you to change your roles. For example, getting divorced, becoming a parent, getting married, or retiring might be role transitions that are difficult to cope with.

Interpersonal deficits

If you don't know how to form and keep good quality relationships, interpersonal therapy will lead you to identify interpersonal deficits and help you improve them. These might include difficulty expressing your emotions or other dysfunctional beliefs and feelings that might prevent you from communicating more effectively.

Your therapist will help you define which area is the most responsible for your current condition and direct the interpersonal therapy in addressing this specific interpersonal issue.

Is Online Interpersonal Therapy Effective?

Online interpersonal therapy has been found to reduce depressive symptoms. Another research states that it is an effective treatment for different types of depressive disorders and other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, substance use disorders, eating disorders, etc.

A 2013 research concluded that interpersonal therapy was as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy for treating depressive disorders and could be suggested as a first-line treatment for this mental health condition. 

Another research found that IPT therapy can be recommended to prevent the development of major depression and relapses.

Some therapists can provide online interpersonal therapy counseling for you to receive proper treatment remotely. The benefits of online therapy include:

  • Comfort and convenience: People struggling with depression find it difficult to perform activities as essential as getting out of bed. This is why online therapy can be an excellent alternative, as you don't need to leave home to get the proper treatment for your mental health condition. You can have online therapy sessions over the phone or through video calls without worrying about traveling to the therapist's office, saving you a lot of time and energy in the process.
  • Adaptability: People change plans, travel abroad, or even get sick during the flu season. In the past, this would mean canceling your in-person meeting with a therapist. But thanks to online counseling, you can continue your treatment from anywhere.

Online therapy is a fantastic alternative for those searching for more convenient yet equally effective treatment. It opens a new door for those who haven't tried therapy before or have already tried in-person therapy but are searching for a more comfortable option.

In addition, online therapy is more affordable than in-person treatment, provides anonymity if you so desire, and has more options available for finding the ideal therapist for you.

What's the Bottom Line?

Online interpersonal therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on your current relationships and how they might be influencing your depression symptoms rather than delving into your inner conflicts founded on past experiences.

It is based on this understanding that you will achieve a much healthier emotional and mental state by improving the dynamics of your relationships and social interactions.

During these sessions, the therapist will help you become aware of your role in your relationships and discover the major difficulties you face when interacting with others.

You can try online interpersonal therapy with DoMental to provide yourself with the convenience and comfort to restore a sense of well-being in your life.

Our network of qualified mental health professionals can help you start online counseling and work through specific interpersonal issues that might be fueling your depression or other mental health conditions. 

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