Description of IPT

IPT was originally developed by Gerald Klerman, Myrna Weissman and associates (see Klerman et al., 1984). IPT, a short-term, focused treatment programme for depression, recognises that many of the stressors that may predispose an individual to develop depression are interpersonal in nature. IPT was included as an active treatment comparator in the Treatment of Depression Collaborative Research Programme (Elkin et al., 1989), and appeared to outperform CBT (Thompson et al., 2001).

IPT focuses on four main problem areas in its treatment approach to depression: (1) grief; (2) interpersonal disputes (conflict with significant others); (3) role transitions (changes in a significant life situation); (4) interpersonal deficits (problems with an individual's initiating, maintaining or sustaining relationships). A number of authors have argued that the approach IPT takes and its focus upon the four problem areas identified above make this form of psychotherapy particularly well suited for use with older adults (Hinrichsen, 1999; Karel & Hinrichsen, 2000; Miller et al., 1998; Miller & Silberman, 1996). As Hinrichsen (1999) states, late life is a time of change and adjustment; many older people will be dealing with the loss of a spouse, many will be negotiating changes in the nature of their relationships with friends, spouses and adult children, and many will be dealing with role transitions due to retirement or adjustments to functional health status. Miller and Silberman (1996) state that IPT is easily relevant to depression in older adults as it is short-term, practical and goal-oriented with a focus on the 'here and now', especially as many older adults may be dealing with adjustments due to the changing nature of later life. As described by Miller and Silberman (1996), IPT and CBT share many features in terms of their relevance as treatments for older adults.

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