Supportive and Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Supportive and Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Supportive psychotherapy is a talk-based therapy that allows patients with mental disorder to air out their concern and receives encouragement from a therapist (Rothe, 2017). It aims at reducing patient’s anxiety and increase their ability to adapt to conditions that may have caused stress. As such, it is used for people with behavioural disorders such as addiction. On the other hand, interpersonal psychotherapy is a therapy that focuses on resolving the interpersonal problems of a patient and mainly focuses on how the patient relates with other people.

Similarities of Supportive and Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy bear similarities. One of the similarities of the therapies is that they both work well for various patient groups. They work effectively for the old people, the youth as well as mothers going through postpartum depression and are not biased to any group of patients but tend to work effectively for all groups. Secondly, both supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy help in reducing patient’s phobia since patients are able to share out their problems. The therapies encourage patients to ventilate what they feel without fear. Thirdly, both therapies are effective in reducing afflictions of depression rather than the usual care and the waiting list. As such, they aim at reducing the symptoms associated with depression.

The fourth similarity is that both therapies also apply talk therapy where the therapist engages the patient in a conversation to identify and resolve the problem in order to come up with a suitable solution that fits the patent. Additionally, interpersonal and supportive therapies both aim at improving the patient’s relationship with others, support their grievances and help them cope with life transitions. These therapies, therefore, help the patients to survive through life examinations and trials. Lastly, both therapies don’t involve taking antidepressant drugs for treating depression but they focus on providing a talking therapy to patients. The therapist is the mediator and engages the patient in a one on one talk to identify the problem and hence come up with a solution.

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Differences between Supportive and Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Despite the similarities listed above supportive and interpersonal psychotherapies also differ in various ways. According to Cuijpers et al. (2016), interpersonal psychotherapy is a treatment model that is structured and has a time limit of about twelve to sixteen weeks. On the other hand, the supportive psychotherapy has no time limit and uses psychodynamic and interpersonal approach.

Secondly, the interpersonal approach is mainly used for treating disorders that are related to how the patient interacts with people and other social organizations (Cuijpers et al., 2016). With this approach, the related problems are addressed so that they can be used in reducing the symptoms of mental disorder. Conversely, the supportive psychotherapy is used for treating patients with psychiatric problems related to behaviours such as addiction, disorders in eating, alcoholism and others (Ashman et al., 2014). The therapist, therefore, tries to assist the patient to adopt a certain mechanism in order to solve the problem.

Another difference is that supportive psychotherapy involves combining both psychodynamic and interpersonal approaches in order to improve the heath pattern of the patient and to also reduce the conflicts that contribute to the patient’s condition while according to Wheeler (2014), interpersonal psychotherapy aims at identifying and coming up with a solution in order to curb the symptom. The therapist targets on the factors that propagate the psychiatric disorders.


The psychotherapy that I would prefer as a nurse is the interpersonal psychotherapy that addresses problems for patients with mental disorder. This is because this therapy centres on the interpersonal relationships of the patient; how the patient interacts with people and social organizations. According to Cuijpers et al (2016), interpersonal relationships affect how psychiatric disorders develop especially the ones related to behaviour. Gelo & Pritz (2014) point out that interpersonal therapy is more effective than supportive therapy which is limited to problems related to behaviour. Interpersonal therapy is also advantageous over supportive therapy as it helps in developing communication skills by interacting with other people. Therefore, this form of therapy is important to me as a nurse as it helps in solving problems, improving social roles, learning and also helps in coping with life changes.


Ashman, T., Cantor, J. B., Tsaousides, T., Spielman, L., & Gordon, W. (2014). Comparison of cognitive behavioural therapy and supportive psychotherapy for the treatment of depression following traumatic brain injury: a randomized controlled trial of. The Journal head trauma rehabilitation29(6), 467-478.

Cuijpers, P., Donker, T., Weissman, M. M., Ravitz, P., & Cristea, I. A. (2016). Interpersonal psychotherapy for mental health problems: a comprehensive meta-analysis. American Journal of Psychiatry, 173(7), 680-687.

Rothe, E.M. (2017). Supportive Psychotherapy in Everyday Clinical Practice: It’s Like Riding a Bicycle. American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry, 34(5).

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.