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Psychotherapy Session


with Alexandra Dench 

Interpersonal psychotherapy for adolescents with depression (IPT-A), adapted from Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), is a form of psychotherapy for young people ages 12-18 who are suffering from depression. It can be useful for adolescents with mild to severe symptoms of depressive disorder, including major depressive disorder, dysthymia, adjustment disorder with depressed mood, and depressive disorder not otherwise specified. 


While IPT-A recognises that genetic, biological, and personality factors play a role in the development of depression, IPT-A focuses on how relationship issues are related to the onset or ongoing occurrence of depressive symptoms.


IPT-A is a structured approach of 12-16 sessions with the adolescent. Additional sessions with caregivers can be agreed if the young person wishes to involve them in the therapy.


The goals of IPT-A are to:

  • help adolescents to recognise their feelings and think about how interpersonal events or conflicts might affect their mood;

  • improve communication and problem-solving skills and expand the support network;

  • enhance social functioning and lessen stress experienced in relationships; and

  • decrease depressive symptoms.


Research has found that IPT-A to be an effective treatment for adolescent depression, demonstrating significant reductions in depressive symptoms (Duffy et al., 2019; Mychailyszyn & Elson, 2018) and psychological distress (Mufson & Sills, 2006).

IPT-A looks to agree for up to 16 sessions for a young person presenting with moderate to severe depression. This includes:

Session 0 - IPT-A information sharing session, exploring IPT-A phases and depression diagnosis in relation to interpersonal triggers.

Sessions 1-4 - Assessment Phase of 4 sessions. Additional report writing clinical time of 1 hour is required to complete a formulation letter before session 4, which is presented to the young person. The therapy goals are agreed based on it.

Session 5-8 - Middle phase of 4 sessions, based on the chosen by the young person focus area for treatment - change, sensitivities, grief or conflict.

Sessions 9-12 - Ending phase of up to 4 sessions, based on further engaging the support network and relapse prevention planning.

IPT-A advises that additional 3 sessions are agreed with the young person who wishes to engage their support network with the therapy goals - 1 at assessment, 1 at middle and 1 at ending phases.

Alex also offers IPT based therapy for adults, using the principles of IPT to support adults with anxiety and/or depression. 

If you would like to book in with Alexandra Dench who specialises in this approach, please get in touch with us via email, phone or through the website. 




Duffy, F., Sharpe, H., & Schwannauer, M. (2019). Review: The effectiveness of interpersonal psychotherapy for adolescents with depression - a systematic review and meta-analysis. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 24(4), 307–317.

Mufson, L., & Sills, R. (2006). Interpersonal Psychotherapy for depressed adolescents (IPT-A): an overview. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 60(6), 431–437.


Mychailyszyn, M. P., & Elson, D. M. (2018). Working through the blues: A meta-analysis on Interpersonal Psychotherapy for depressed adolescents (IPT-A). Children and Youth Services Review, 87, 123–129.

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