Wheeler (2014) states that interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) and supportive psychotherapy (SP) are two therapeutic approaches therapists can consider when treating patients suffering from mental health conditions. This paper compares the IPT and SP to establish their similarities and differences and the therapeutic approach the practitioner may use on the client.
Similarities between Supportive psychotherapy and Interpersonal psychotherapy
Supportive psychotherapy (SP) derives its meaning from psychoanalysis, which Harari (2014), states are the type of therapy where the therapist offers or provides clients with more mature and adaptive personality defenses. Wheeler (2014) states the goal of SP, as a psychodynamic therapy approach, is to rebuild/reinstate the client’s quality of life by providing encouragement, increasing the ability to solve problems, and intensifying their defense mechanisms. On the other hand, the aim of the interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is to focus on treatment that encourages and empowers clients to regain self-mood and independent functioning. Therefore, the counselor using this therapy can devise a plan that would help the patient establish a connection with social supports in a bid to improve the relationships (Cuijpers et al. 2016). Both IPT and SP have similar features of substantially improving the outcome of the treatment. Also, the two approaches are client-oriented, intending to help clients restore to their former operational level by establishing and employing appropriate positive coping skills. Both psychotherapies achieve these by utilizing goal setting, appropriate behavioral drills, and role-playing to assist the clients to take decisive action (Wheeler, 2014).
Differences between Supportive psychotherapy and Interpersonal psychotherapy
Interpersonal psychotherapy strives to reduce depressive symptoms and maladaptive functions from the clients by encouraging clients to adjust to social responses, establish problematic communication patterns, and enhance their emotional awareness. Supportive therapy aims to develop the client’s strengths, relieve symptoms, and develop positive coping capabilities to cultivate effective behaviors by building strong, flexible defenses and not focusing on depression alone (Novalis, 2009). The second difference is that the IPT approach has a strict time limit, whereas SP has extended periods (Harari, 2014). The third difference is that the therapist plays a more supportive role in the SP versus in the IPT, where the therapist plays a neutral approach. The SP foster and engages a direct relationship with the client.
The Version of Therapeutic Approach, the Practitioner Can Use on the Client
The type of therapy will depend on the client’s unique characteristics, the client’s needs, diagnoses the patient has, the research evidence that supports the efficacy of the approach, and time limitation. This practitioner will prefer to use the IPT because of its footing on the precept of interpersonal relationships, and social communication and functions will create an impact on mental health disorders (Wheeler, 2018). The practitioner needs to make a comprehensive health assessment to determine which therapy will benefit the client. For instance, a client that was functioning until became destabilized by life events involving loss such as divorce or relationship betrayal will need IPT. The other clients suffering from a long-term physical illness or disabilities associated with being handicapped or in pain will need supportive therapy.
Several factors determine the continuous use of IPT and SP. These two are necessary forms of psychotherapy needed and used in varying situations. The effectiveness of these therapies depends on the client’s readiness to comply with the established treatment regimen and the skill the therapist possesses to determine the success or failure of these approaches.
Cuijpers, P., Donker, T., Weissman, M. M., Ravitz, P., & Cristea, I. A. (2016). Interpersonal
psychotherapy for mental health problems: A comprehensive meta-analysis. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 173(7), 680-687. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15091141
Harari, E. (2014). Supportive psychotherapy. Australasian Psychiatry, 22(5), 440-442.
Novalis, M.D., (2009). What Supports Supportive Psychotherapy? Retrieved from http://jdc.jefferson.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1215&context=jeffjpsychiatry
Wheeler, K. (Ed.). (2014). Psychotherapy for the advanced practice psychiatric nurse: A how-to
guide for evidence-based practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company
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