Supportive Psychotherapy Versus Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Comparing supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy

Although supportive psychotherapy and interpersonal psychotherapy share some similarities, these therapeutic approaches have many differences. When assessing clients and selecting therapies, it is important to recognize these differences and how they may impact your clients. For this Assignment, as you compare supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy, consider which therapeutic approach you might use with your clients.

Learning Objectives

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

To prepare:

  • Review the media in this week’s Learning Resources.
  • Reflect on supportive and interpersonal psychotherapeutic approaches.

The Assignment

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 for mental health counselors  based on evidence-based literature to use.




Supportive Psychotherapy Versus Interpersonal Psychotherapy




Student’s Name





Supportive Psychotherapy Versus Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Comparing Supportive and Interpersonal Psychotherapy

“Effective psychotherapy can be a lifeline for those struggling with mental health challenges, but when choosing between supportive psychotherapy and interpersonal psychotherapy, the decision can be complex and daunting.” Supportive psychotherapy and interpersonal psychotherapy are two popular forms of talk therapy that can be used to treat various mental health issues. Supportive psychotherapy focuses on providing emotional support and encouragement to the patient, helping them to manage their symptoms and develop coping strategies to deal with life stressors (Esfandiari et al., 2020). The therapist provides a non-judgmental, empathetic presence and assists the patient in building their self-esteem and confidence. In contrast, interpersonal psychotherapy addresses interpersonal and relationship problems that may contribute to the patient’s mental health issues (Markowitz et al., 2019). The therapist helps the patient to identify and address specific interpersonal problems, such as conflicts with family members, romantic partners, or coworkers. Ultimately, both forms of psychotherapy can effectively treat mental health issues, and the choice between them may depend on the individual patient’s needs and preferences.

Supportive psychotherapy and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) are two types of psychotherapy that aim to improve mental health and well-being. Supportive psychotherapy is a broad approach that emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and offers patients emotional support, validation, and encouragement. In contrast, IPT is a time-limited, structured therapy focusing on specific interpersonal problems and their impact on mood and behaviour (Rasmussen & Kealy, 2020). While both approaches share some similarities, such as the importance of the therapeutic relationship and the use of active listening and empathy, they differ in their goals and techniques. Supportive psychotherapy aims to increase patients’ self-esteem, coping skills, and emotional regulation, while IPT focuses on improving social functioning and resolving interpersonal difficulties (Frank et al., 2022). Overall, the choice between these two therapies depends on the patient’s needs, preferences, and goals for treatment. This essay aims to compare and contrast supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy, highlight their similarities and differences, and recommend a therapeutic approach for mental health counsellors based on evidence-based literature.

Similarities between Supportive Psychotherapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Supportive psychotherapy and interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) share many similarities as they both fall under the umbrella of psychodynamic psychotherapies. Both approaches aim to help clients understand their emotions and behaviour and work towards improving their mental health and overall well-being. One of the key similarities between these two therapies is their emphasis on building a solid therapeutic relationship between the client and therapist (Howard et al., 2022). In supportive psychotherapy, the therapist provides a safe and non-judgmental environment for clients to explore their thoughts and feelings. Similarly, IPT focuses on creating a positive and collaborative relationship between the therapist and client, which is essential for the success of the therapy. Another commonality between these two approaches is their focus on the present rather than the past (Miniati et al., 2018). Both supportive psychotherapy and IPT are designed to help clients develop coping skills and strategies for their current situations. While they may explore past experiences and how they may have contributed to current difficulties, the primary goal is to help clients improve their functioning. In addition, both supportive psychotherapy and IPT are brief, time-limited therapies (Markowitz, 2022). While supportive psychotherapy may be longer in duration, both approaches are generally shorter than traditional psychoanalysis. This is because both therapies focus on specific goals and outcomes and are designed to provide clients with the skills they need to manage their mental health concerns. Finally, supportive psychotherapy and IPT treat various mental health conditions (Borson et al., 2019). They can treat depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, and other emotional disorders. The therapies can be adapted to suit each client’s unique needs and may be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, such as medication. Supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy share many similarities, including their focus on building a solid therapeutic relationship, their present-focused approach, their time-limited nature, and their effectiveness in treating various mental health conditions.

Differences between Supportive Psychotherapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Supportive Psychotherapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) are two approaches to psychotherapy that share some similarities but also have significant differences. Some critical differences between supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy include focus, duration, and techniques (Sockol, 2018). The primary focus of Supportive Psychotherapy is to provide emotional support and guidance to the patient. This type of therapy is often used to help individuals going through a difficult time in their lives, such as a significant life transition, loss, or illness. The therapist provides empathy, validation, and encouragement to the patient, helping them to feel heard and understood. In contrast, IPT focuses more on addressing specific interpersonal problems causing distress or impairment. The therapist helps the patient identify and address difficulties in their relationships to improve overall functioning and reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental health concerns. Supportive Psychotherapy is often brief, lasting for a few weeks to a few months, depending on the patient’s needs (Werner-Seidler et al., 2018). This type of therapy is usually provided more flexibly, as needed. In contrast, IPT typically involves a longer-term commitment, often lasting for several months or even a year (Peckmezian & Paxton, 2020). This is because IPT involves a more structured, goal-oriented approach that requires time to work through the various stages of therapy. While both Supportive Psychotherapy and IPT rely on talking therapy to help patients, they differ in using specific techniques. Supportive Psychotherapy may include techniques such as active listening, empathy, reassurance, and problem-solving (Joo et al., 2018). The therapist helps the patient to identify their strengths and resources and to develop coping strategies to deal with difficult emotions or situations. In contrast, IPT is more structured and focused on specific techniques to address interpersonal problems (Dietz, 2020). These may include role-playing, communication training, and problem-solving strategies to improve relationships with others. Overall, both Supportive Psychotherapy and IPT can be effective in helping individuals to improve their mental health and overall well-being. The choice between these two approaches will depend on the specific needs and goals of the patient, as well as the expertise and training of the therapist.

Recommending a Therapeutic Approach for Mental Health Counselors

Supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy are two evidence-based therapeutic approaches that mental health counsellors can use to help clients address various mental health issues. These approaches focus on building a solid therapeutic relationship with the client and providing support and guidance through difficult times. This paragraph will outline a recommended therapeutic approach for mental health counsellors based on evidence-based literature in supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy. The first step in this therapeutic approach is establishing a solid therapeutic alliance with the client. This involves building a relationship based on trust, empathy, and understanding (Zugai et al., 2018). Mental health counsellors should work to create a safe and non-judgmental environment where the client feels comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The counsellor can build this strong relationship to create a foundation for the following therapeutic work. Once a solid therapeutic alliance has been established, the counsellor can use supportive techniques to help the client (Bar-Kalifa et al., 2019). These techniques may include validation, reassurance, and empathy. The counsellor should work to provide a supportive environment where the client feels heard and understood. This may involve helping clients identify and manage their emotions and providing practical guidance and advice where appropriate. Interpersonal psychotherapy can also be valuable for mental health counsellors (Ingram et al., 2021). This approach explores the client’s interpersonal relationships and how they impact their mental health. The counsellor can work with the client to identify patterns of behaviour and communication that may contribute to their difficulties. Through exploration and discussion, the client can gain insight into their relationships and develop new communication and conflict management skills. Overall, a therapeutic approach based on evidence-based literature in the areas of supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy should prioritize the development of a solid therapeutic alliance, as well as the use of supportive and interpersonal techniques to help the client. By creating a safe and supportive environment, mental health counsellors can help clients address various mental health issues and develop new skills for managing emotions and relationships.


In conclusion, supportive and interpersonal psychotherapy are both practical approaches to treating mental health disorders, with their similarities and differences. While supportive psychotherapy emphasizes the importance of the therapeutic relationship, empathy, and validation, interpersonal psychotherapy focuses on identifying and addressing interpersonal problems contributing to the client’s symptoms. The evidence suggests that both therapies can effectively treat various mental health disorders, and the choice may depend on the client’s specific needs and preferences. Ultimately, mental health counsellors should be trained in both approaches and use evidence-based literature to determine the most appropriate therapeutic approach for each client. It is crucial to recognize that therapy is a highly individualized process, and a collaborative approach between the client and therapist is essential for achieving positive outcomes.
















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Borson, S., Korpak, A., Carbajal‐Madrid, P., Likar, D., Brown, G. A., & Batra, R. (2019). Reducing Barriers to Mental Health Care: Bringing Evidence‐Based Psychotherapy Home. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 67(10), 2174-2179.

Dietz, L. J. (2020). Family-based interpersonal psychotherapy: an intervention for preadolescent depression. American journal of psychotherapy73(1), 22-28.

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