ESSAY: Supportive Psychotherapy Versus Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Students will:

  • Compare supportive psychotherapy and interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Recommend therapeutic approaches for clients presenting for psychotherapy

To prepare:

  • Reflect on supportive and interpersonal psychotherapeutic approaches.

The Assignment

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In a 1- to 2-page paper, address the following:

  • Briefly describe how supportive and interpersonal psychotherapies are similar.
  • Explain at least three differences between these therapies. Include how these differences might impact your practice as a mental health counselor.
  • Explain which therapeutic approach you might use with clients and why. Support your approach with evidence-based literature.
  • Writer: you may answer the personalized opinion part of the question in your personal perspective so long as it pertains to the topic assigned.


Supportive Vs Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a term used to describe the process of treating mental disorders and emotional distress by using psychological techniques rather than medical means. The practice aims to promote an individual’s mental health and well-being, mitigate or resolve troublesome compulsions, emotions, thoughts, behaviors, or beliefs, and help to improve social skills and relationships (Corey, 2015). Psychotherapy also helps an individual to learn healthy coping skills and problem-solving techniques, which are critical in responding to life threatening situations. Two common methods of psychotherapy discussed in this essay include supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy. Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on a person’s relationship and communication with others. IPT is time-limited and empirically structured (Weissman, Markowitz & Klerman, 2018). Supportive psychotherapy, on the other hand, is a form of therapy used by most mental health counselors to restore, maintain, or improve self-esteem and skills. Whereas the two have similarities, it is important to understand their differences in order to have a clear picture of which method is better.

How Supportive and Interpersonal Psychotherapies Are Similar

The two are similar in the sense that both have at least some common goal: to ensure that the client recovers from the psychological problems. In both cases, an examination is conducted to ensure that the mode of therapy matches the issue at hand. In addition, supportive and interpersonal psychotherapies focus on improving an individual’s mental health and well-being.  Both therapies can be conducted on individuals, groups or families. Lastly, both methods are similar in the sense that therapists must be mindful, regulate emotions and must have interpersonal effectiveness and tolerance to stress.

Three Differences Between These Therapies

Whereas supportive psychotherapy is a friendly, warm, non-judgmental mechanismhaving strong leadership from the psychologists, interpersonal psychotherapy is a type of cognitive/behavioral therapy where the therapist is more or less a coach whose task is to give directions. Interpersonal psychotherapy focus on improving social support and interpersonal functioning while supportive psychotherapy aims at maintaining and improving self-esteem and skills (Werman, 2014). As such, supportive therapy may not be effective to people who have no self-direction. As a mental health counselor, this helps in understanding which technique to apply for which case. Interpersonal Psychotherapy is a time limited/short term mechanism meant for major depressive disorders/ while supportive is a long term method which seeks to ensure that at the end of the day, remedy has been obtained for the problem…

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