In the IPT for depression model, interpersonal disputes can occur between virtually anyone that a person has contact with, such as a person’s partner, family member, children, friends, co-workers or supervisors, to name a few. These interpersonal disputes are often paired with feelings of fear or frustration, symptoms of depression, and general emotional distress. Once a person gets familiar with the IPT for depression tools, they can recognize these problems and the specific interpersonal dispute they are related to.  After a person has identified a specific interpersonal dispute that is causing their symptoms they then have to determine which stage of the dispute they are in, so that they can establish realistic and effective goals. This allows them to begin to identify their consequent emotions and then develop an action plan to cope with, and resolve their interpersonal disputes, which in turn results in increased happiness.

A person working a dispute in the IPT for depression model may come to recognize that they are at the impasse stage of the conflict, which is typically characterized by behaviors such a stop in discussions and communications and some resentment towards the other person. A person at this stage may start with the seemingly fundamental goal of bringing the dispute itself into the open so that discussion about the problem can occur. A person who is at the re-negotiation stage may already be aware of their problems and be working to resolve them, but they may need to work on ways to improve their communication or have both parties compose themselves so that successful discussion can occur. A person who is at the dissolution stage has recognized that the problematic relationship is damaged beyond repair, and as such, goals would include accepting and grieving the end of the relationship.

IPT for depression recognizes that when formulating goals for interpersonal disputes, it is important to focus on what options actually exist and what changes are realistic, to prevent further frustration. Recognizing that patterns from past relationships can relate to current problems can also be an important cue to base discussion and treatment goals on.

IPT for depression seeks to facilitate the exploration of interpersonal disputes to understand how the dispute is perpetuated. Dispute work focuses on detailed accounts of unproductive interactions. In working through interpersonal disputes, once the related issues, expectations and perpetuating behaviors are identified, the IPT for depression strategy can be used to exploring possibilities for change, through improved communication and use of interpersonal resources, for example.  Sometimes it is helpful to understand if the interpersonal dispute is repeated in other relationships.  For example, if there are undeveloped skills in a specific area (e.g. passive communication, demandingness or conflict avoidance, etc.), then it is likely that skill building in these areas (e.g., assertiveness, empathy, problem solving, etc.) could also be helpful and identify additional opportunities to practice alternative behaviors, which might contribute to resolving the primary dispute.  Hence, we use the IPT model to help define dysfunctional relationship patterns, and other components of out IOP facilitate the development of these other coping skills.  If you or someone you love could benefit from IOP, please give us a call.

IPT for Depression