Home Advice Can Interpersonal Psychotherapy Help Improve My Relationships?

Can Interpersonal Psychotherapy Help Improve My Relationships?

Can Interpersonal Psychotherapy Help Improve My Relationships?
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We all have relationships. Relationships are formed with the people we work with, our family, our roommate, and a special relationship with our spouse. A healthy relationship includes mutual respect. Each person values the other. A trust is formed. Each person accepts the quirks and differences in the other person. You have love and approval for each other. There is good communication, compromise, and commitment to each other. Communication is the key to a healthy relationship. When a relationship becomes unbalanced, it can become toxic. Symptoms of an unbalanced relationship include:

  • Lack of trust and jealousy
  • Inability to navigate difficult conversations, so you avoid them
  • Insecurity about the relationship
  • When one is co-dependent on the other
  • Hostile environment
  • Constant criticism
  • Fear and anxiety around your partner
  • Anger issues

If the relationship has become physically and/or emotionally abusive, you need to get out of the relationship as soon as possible. An abusive person will use threats, bribery, and other tactics to keep you from leaving. There are help groups that you can turn to that can help. If violence is involved, call 911 and report the abuse to the police. If you need assistance in leaving, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.  

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No relationship is perfect. However, there is always room for improvement. Sit and talk out the issues. Be honest and supportive. Do not be judgmental when sharing your feelings. Listen to their side. Often, when the relationship has become unbalanced, it is difficult to communicate. In this case, you may need to get professional help. A good source of help is interpersonal psychotherapy.

What is interpersonal psychotherapy?

Interpersonal psychotherapy is a short-term therapy of six to 20 weeks to help people with their relationships with other people. It was initially developed for people with depression. Depression can cause problems in relationships. If you do not feel well, you often lash out at the people around you. However, sometimes an unbalanced relationship can cause depression. It becomes a difficult cycle to get out of.  

The therapist will work with you one-on-one or in a group setting. You will discuss your family experiences and learn how they have an impact on your present circumstances. We all have baggage from our life experiences. Interpersonal psychotherapy helps you let go of the baggage and learn how to cope when triggers present themselves. There are three phases of interpersonal therapy.

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Phases of interpersonal therapy

Beginning phase:

The therapist will attempt to identify the initial problem and diagnose the issue. They will do a formal interview to understand the different patterns of your relationships. The therapist will use various assessment tools to gather information. Once the assessment is complete, the therapist will discuss their impressions and how specific issues interfere with healthy relationships.

The Middle phase:

The middle phase is where most of the treatment will take place. Based on the initial phase, the middle phase is tailored to the issues that were discovered. Interpersonal psychotherapy may concentrate on one or more of four problem areas:

  • Grief: Loss and sorrow come from losing a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, children leaving home, etc. The therapist will help you communicate your feelings. You will learn how to utilize existing relationships outside the therapy to learn how to deal with grief.
  • Interpersonal disputes: If disputes with others are the leading cause of the problem, this will be the focus. The therapist will use different techniques to help you deal with the specific dispute and resolve it.
  • Role transitions: Life changes can be challenging to cope with. The therapist will help you develop tools to develop new attitudes and skills for your new role status.
  • Interpersonal sensitivity: Feelings of isolation and loneliness results from difficulties in forming and maintaining relationships. The therapist helps you establish new and supportive relationships.

Final phase: 

As progress is made during the middle phase, the therapist prepares you for therapy termination. You can have further sessions as needed for help for a new situation that has surfaced.

Interpersonal communication

During the middle phase, your interpersonal therapist will help you learn to cope by developing different skills that you can use, such as role-playing and other techniques. Your therapist will help you learn how to be a good communicator. Communication is essential in personal relationships. There are four types of interpersonal communication skills.

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How you say something is as important as what you say. If your voice rises and falls while you speak, your voice’s tone can be louder than the words you use. Your voice tone can cause your comments to be either friendly, sarcastic, or even show meanness.


There is a difference between hearing and listening to what is being said to you. You can hear that someone is speaking to you. Listening takes effort by concentrating on what the person is saying and trying to understand them. Often, we are thinking of what we want to say next instead of paying attention to what is being said. An excellent tool to use is to write down notes of what the person is saying so you can repeat back what they said so that they know that you understood what they were saying. If you do not want to forget what you want to say, write a word or two down to prompt you and then pay attention to what the other person is saying.

Written communication:

When sending letters, emails, and text messages, you are communicating. Re-read what you write before you hit the send button. Make sure the information is accurate and portrays a friendly voice and not one that is commanding. Information written communication can include emojis to relay your state of emotion that is not evident in the wording.

Non-verbal communication:

When you speak to someone face-to-face, your body language communicates far more than you would think. Your eyes and facial expressions tell if you are listening and are interested in what the person has to say. Body language is an art that is worth studying.

Final Words

Positive results have shown that interpersonal therapy is effective. No matter what you are going through, it is better to seek help. Many relationships change along the way. Sometimes we need professional help to get through difficult times.

Working with a qualified interpersonal psychotherapist can make a big difference and put your life and relationships on track. If you are undergoing any difficulty in life or feel your relationship is rocky, seek an interpersonal psychotherapist’s help.  BetterHelp.com has some great articles and information on how an interpersonal psychotherapist can help!

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