Supportive and Interpersonal Psychotherapies

Supportive and Interpersonal Psychotherapies
Psychotherapy encompasses the use of psychological approaches to help individuals in changing and overcoming problems in desired ways. It aims at improving an individual's mental health as well as the general well-being, resolving troublesome behavioral traits, beliefs, and compulsions. Additionally, psychotherapy aims at improving relationships and social skills (Wampold and Imel, 2015). Over the years, certain psychological approaches have been considered evidence-based during the treatment of diagnosed diseases and mental disorders. In specific, supportive and interpersonal psychotherapies are two significant approaches that have over the decade, portrayed various similarities and differences.

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Supportive psychotherapy incorporates cognitive-oriented and psychodynamic models. In this respect, therapists aim at reinforcing patient health as well as viable adaptive recovery patterns in order to reduce conflicting intrapsychic (Werman, 2014). On the other hand, interpersonal psychotherapy is a time-limited approach, with a duration of 12-16 weeks, which aims at resolving interpersonal problems by employing viable symptomatic recovery programs.

According to Prochaska and Norcross (2018), there are evident similarities between supportive and interpersonal psychotherapies. First, the two approaches focus on changing current behavioral patterns among individuals. Secondly, they emphasize on understanding patient's past issues and health performance. In this respect, the two approaches aim at combining evidenced change behaviors and motivations. Thirdly, supportive and interpersonal psychotherapies provide a working alliance between therapists and patients. In so doing, there is the instigation of an emotionally safe setting that gives patients a feeling of being un-criticized, supported, and accepted. Germer, Siegel, and Fulton (2016), asserts that confidentiality is often a central aspect of therapeutic relationships. Fourthly, both supportive and interpersonal psychotherapies provide striking similarities in certain psychiatric diagnoses: multiple patient factors are considered prior to recommending psychotherapy.

Despite the aforementioned striking similarities between supportive and interpersonal psychotherapies, there are evident differences between the two psychotherapeutic approaches. While supportive psychotherapy integrates psychodynamic and cognitive-oriented models and techniques, interpersonal psychotherapy focus on resolving interpersonal problems as well as symptomatic recovery. Additionally, supportive psychotherapy approach provides considerable support for ultimate development independence while interpersonal psychotherapy assumes that there is a connection between onset mood disorders and interpersonal frameworks (Markowitz et al., 2015). Supportive psychotherapy is non-judgmental and portrays strong leadership attributes. On the other hand, interpersonal psychotherapy is time-limited and its efficacy is demonstrated by the use of randomized trials. Finally, in supportive psychotherapy, expressions are usually emotion-encouraged while in interpersonal psychotherapy, expressions are moulded by life events which impact on the mood of patients (Werman, 2014).

It is certain that with the aforementioned differences between supportive and interpersonal therapies, my profession as a mental health counselor will be affected in various ways. First, it will be easier to identify the most appropriate and available evidence-based practice that should be administered to my clients for provision of better care. Secondly, my focus as a mental health counselor will be complementary but unique in addressing the range of issues faced by my clients. Finally, these differences between supportive and interpersonal psychotherapies would positively impact on my profession since I would be in a better position to redefine the relationship between therapeutic approaches in fostering growth. As a result, continued research study and examination would be a product of comprehending these differing features between supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy in regard to the way the two approaches are utilized (Cuijpers et al., 2016). Basing my view on the features of these two psychotherapeutic approaches, I would use interpersonal psychotherapy while treating and caring for my clients. The rationale for this is because according to recent research studies, this approach has demonstrated to be an effective treatment tool for a wide range of health disorders including bipolar disorder, post-partum depression, cyclothymia, depressive disorders, and bulimia nervosa. Additionally, with this therapeutic approach, therapists and mental health counselors have efficiently been able to counter-transfer empathy, effective attunement, and short-term therapies for all patients with recurrent depression as Panya, Dangdomyouth, and Lueboonthavatchai (2015) asserts.


1. Cuijpers, P., Donker, T., Weissman, M. M., Ravitz, P., and Cristea, I. A. (2016). Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Mental Health Problems: A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Psychiatry, 173(7), 680-687.
2. Germer, C., Siegel, R. D., and Fulton, P. R. (Eds.). (2016). Mindfulness and Psychotherapy. Guilford Publications.
3. Markowitz, J. C., Petkova, E., Neria, Y., Van Meter, P. E., Zhao, Y., Hembree, E., ... and Marshall, R. D. (2015). Is Exposure Necessary? A Randomized Clinical Trial of Interpersonal Psychotherapy for PTSD. American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(5), 430-440.
4. Panya, S., Dangdomyouth, P., and Lueboonthavatchai, P. (2015). The Effect of Group Interpersonal Psychotherapy on Depression among Patients with Depressive Disorder. Journal of the Psychiatric Association of Thailand, 60(2), 99-110.
5. Prochaska, J. O., and Norcross, J. C. (2018). Systems of Psychotherapy: A Transtheoretical Analysis. Oxford University Press.
6. Wampold, B. E., and Imel, Z. E. (2015). The Great Psychotherapy Debate: The Evidence for What Makes Psychotherapy Work. Routledge.
7. Werman, D. S. (2014). Practice of Supportive Psychotherapy. Routledge.

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