Interpersonal Psychotherapy in NYC

Improve communication and social support through exploring relationships and interpersonal dynamics.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy

What Is Interpersonal Psychotherapy?

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a form of psychotherapy that aims to relieve symptoms of depression and other mood disorders by identifying and overcoming relational issues, improving clients’ relationships with those around them. Highly studied and useful for both adults and adolescents, IPT is a time-limited therapy that aims to strengthen clients’ social support system while also empowering clients to adjust to difficulties they may face in relationships in consistent and healthy ways.

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How Does Interpersonal Psychotherapy Work?

IPT works to help people recognize depressive emotions associated with relationships. A change of social environment can be key in alleviating symptoms of depression. Interpersonal psychotherapy helps lessen symptoms of depression and anxiety by teaching people how to:

  • Improve or remove toxic relationships
  • Overcome negative feelings about relationships
  • Identify ways to seek out positive relationships

IPT typically takes place over 12–16 weeks. An IPT therapist will learn about their client’s social history, including current relationships and the client’s expectations around those relationships. Then, they will help their client learn new skills that create better interpersonal dynamics in their current and future relationships.

What Does Interpersonal Psychotherapy Treat?

Sad and depressed woman sitting on sofa at home.


IPT helps decrease symptoms of depression by teaching people that their feelings toward their relationships can be altered. How a person feels about a relationship can change due to perceptual changes, active participation in relationships, and setting boundaries. These changes in thought and behavior can enable a person to cope in a healthy manner with life events that may have once triggered depressive symptoms.


Feelings of anxiety can arise for any number of reasons, but when they are attached to a relationship, they can feel crippling. IPT can help people identify what is causing anxiety in their relationships before developing strategies to alleviate the anxiety.


The trauma that many people with PTSD experience can lead to feelings of isolation and interpersonal distrust. IPT works to help people identify their emotions as useful social cues before working on trust-building exercises.

Social Anxiety

IPT is an effective therapy for social anxiety, which is directly related to interacting with others. Therapists practicing IPT will help clients become aware of how they behave in social situations, determining if they might be socially avoidant or self-isolating. From here, your therapist can work with you on developing strategies to overcome issues that are exacerbating social anxiety.

What Does Interpersonal Psychotherapy Help With?

IPT can help clients in various scenarios, including people who are: 

  • Transitioning in a role: We all go through various role changes in our lives. These can look like relationships ending, shifts in the work environment, or becoming a parent. IPT helps those going through a transition with regulating their emotions around changing relationships.
  • Experiencing grief: The loss of a loved one can lead to emotions that cause people to experience depression and anxiety. A therapist practicing IPT can help a person 2 navigate these feelings in the context of their relationships.
  • Displaying interpersonal deficits: An interpersonal deficit can look like social isolation or avoidance. An IPT therapist can help a person with social anxiety learn to overcome their fears in order to pursue meaningful relationships that lessen feelings of depression and social anxiety.

What's It Like Doing Interpersonal Psychotherapy?

In the first few sessions of IPT, the therapist will ask their client about their relationships and their emotions towards them, with the therapist acting as an empathetic listener. This time is for identifying which relationships are most exacerbating depressive or anxious thoughts.

In phase two of IPT, the therapist will bring their findings to the attention of their client. The therapist will help the client to understand why certain situations may be causing negative or difficult emotions. Strategies that can be used to adjust emotions will be discussed and put into practice.

In the final phase of IPT, the therapist and their client will review progress, ensuring the client is more aware of their perceptions and emotions surrounding relationships and feels equipped with strategies to continue employing in their relationships going forward.

Mature man talking to senior therapist at community center

Common Techniques

Common techniques utilized in IPT include:

  • Clarification: Therapists clarify their clients’ relational issues to aid them in recognizing and overcoming their biases. Clarification also requires clients to describe their interpersonal issues and emotions surrounding them.
  • Role playing: Role playing allows clients to become aware of different perspectives regarding their relationships, which can help to alter emotions attached to certain situations. Role playing also allows clients to practice their skills, such as starting conversations with new people.
  • Supportive listening: Your therapist is there to make you feel comfortable in discussing your interpersonal issues. They will provide a nonjudgmental ear throughout the process.
  • Communication analysis: This technique involves clients discussing a difficult social situation or recalling an experience in a difficult relationship that makes them feel uncomfortable. Together, the therapist and client can identify current unhealthy interpersonal patterns that may have stemmed from that interaction.
  • Encouragement of affect: This technique refers to the therapist providing a safe environment for clients to feel uncomfortable emotions, making them easier to accept and understand.
happy couple walking in nyc

Benefits of Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Improving how you feel about your relationships, as well as the quality of your relationships, can result in benefits including:

  • Enhanced communication skills: IPT can help clients learn how to communicate more effectively through role playing and by providing clients with coping skills to better adjust to situations that may have previously hindered communication.
  • Reduced depression symptoms: IPT works to improve clients’ interpersonal skills, resulting in healthier, stable, reciprocated relationships. This sense of community can decrease feelings of depression.
  • Acceptance of emotion: IPT helps clients become aware of their emotions and encourages them to accept how they feel while also working to adjust responses to prevent depressive feelings.
  • Bias recognition: A therapist practicing IPT will help clients to uncover perceived biases about social situations and relationships, allowing clients to see and feel events for how they truly are.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy at Behavioral Health of New York

1. Contact Our Office

The first step is to contact our office. Give us a call, or fill out our online form to get started.

2. Speak with Dr. Levy 

Each of our new clients has an initial consultation with Dr. Mitch Levy, the director of our practice at Behavioral Health of New York. He will confirm if IPT is ideal for you, or recommend another therapy more suited to your situation.

3. Fill Out Forms

We ask all new clients to fill out an intake form and a confidentiality/cancellation form before their first therapy session. We also have an optional form if you’d like us to coordinate your care with another physician, psychiatrist, or other health professional.

4. Start Your Sessions 

We’ll do our best to set up your sessions at a time most convenient for you. Our office manager is readily available to answer any administrative questions you may have.

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Feel Better with Interpersonal Psychotherapy

It’s possible to live a more fulfilling, happy life through the improvement of interpersonal relationships.

Find BHNY Interpersonal Therapy Near You

Serving NYC, Westchester, and Long Island

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do You Talk About During Interpersonal Psychotherapy?

In IPT, clients will discuss how they feel about their relationships, the emotions they associate with relationships, and how they feel those relationships are impacting their lives.

Is Interpersonal Psychotherapy an Evidence-based Practice?

Yes, IPT is an evidence-based therapy with multiple studies showing that it can help decrease depression and anxiety symptoms.