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[ANSWERED 2023] Although supportive psychotherapy and interpersonal psychotherapy share some similarities, these therapeutic approaches have many differences

Last Updated on 03/22/2023 by Admin

Although supportive psychotherapy and interpersonal psychotherapy share some similarities, these therapeutic approaches have many differences

Although supportive psychotherapy and interpersonal psychotherapy share some similarities, these therapeutic approaches have many differences

Assignment: Supportive Psychotherapy versus 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 you might use with clients and why. Support your approach with evidence-based literature.

Note: The College of Nursing requires that all papers submitted include a title page, introduction, summary, and references. The Sample Paper provided at the Walden Writing Center provides an example of those required elements (available at ). All papers submitted must use this formatting.

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Expert Answer and Explanation

Supportive V. Interpersonal Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy entails the process in which a patient can be treated by talking to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or any other mental health provider. Patients and therapists interact through a shared model of intervention that is beneficial for the patient. Therapists make use of the process to learn about the patient and make them understand their condition, moods, thoughts, behavior, and feelings (Sommers-Flanagan, & Sommers-Flanagan, 2013).

Supportive psychotherapy is a form of a therapeutic strategy that involves cognitive-behavioral, psychodynamic, and interpersonal conceptual approaches towards psychotherapy. On the other hand, interpersonal psychotherapy is brief, focused on the person, and concentrates on resolving interpersonal problems in a person. A therapist can make use of either supportive psychotherapy or interpersonal psychotherapy to treat the patient disorder.

Similarities between Supportive and Interpersonal Psychotherapy

The two approaches are essential for helping the patient with mental disorder to attain a state of normalcy. Both approaches of psychotherapy are similar as they are facilitating a therapeutic impact on the patient. They aid in alleviating patient symptoms related to psychiatric episodes. The two psychotherapy approaches are also similar in that they do not make use of antidepressants but opt to utilize the different variations of talking therapy (Stuart, 2010).

The model is specific to each patient by identifying and resolving current problems and improve the state of mind. The talking therapy is also focused on the understanding of patient perspective, beliefs, and conflict that can propagate, predispose, or even precipitate the psychiatric disorder symptoms.

Differences between Supportive and Interpersonal Psychotherapy

While the two approaches use talking therapy to aid the patients, some differences make them distinct from each other. First, supportive psychotherapy is used to help patients overcome their psychiatric issues such as addiction and other withdrawal issues (Stuart, 2010). Support entails taking with patients dealing with mental problems that need help to overcome and become more independent from the disease.

Interpersonal psychotherapy is focused on understanding the patients and helping them identify themselves while battling a psychiatric condition. Secondly, the interpersonal approach is more empathetic, where the therapist seeks to understand the prevailing issue from the perspective of the patient. Supportive psychotherapy is focused on providing professional insights and guidelines for becoming a better version of oneself.

The other difference between the approaches is that the interpersonal approach is structured, time-bound, and has a strict adherence to time frames that last for approximately 12 to 16 weeks (Stuart, 2010). On the other hand, a supportive approach does not have any formal structure and makes use of different models to attain the expected outcomes.

Although supportive psychotherapy and interpersonal psychotherapy share some similarities, these therapeutic approaches have many differences

Preferred Model

The model that I would prefer to use in my therapy sessions and improve better client outcomes is the interpersonal approach. The main reason for the utilization of the interpersonal psychotherapy approach is not only to identify but also to resolve psychiatric issues that the patient presents. The attribute also aims to improve the health of the patient and better improve the adaptive patterns of the client (Markowitz et al., 2019). As a therapist, understanding the needs of the patient before offering any form of help is critical in ensuring that they meet the required improvement standards.

Summary and Conclusion

Both supportive and interpersonal psychotherapies are important in helping patients with mental disorders. They both make use of talking therapy to improve the health condition of the patient. The method is also different in various aspects that make them distinct and be preferred in various conditions.


Markowitz, J. C., Milrod, B., Luyten, P., & Holmqvist, R. (2019). Mentalizing in interpersonal psychotherapy. American Journal of Psychotherapy72(4), 95-100.

Sommers-Flanagan, J., & Sommers-Flanagan, R. (2013). Counseling and psychotherapy theories in context and practice [Video file]. Mill Valley, CA:

Stuart, S. (2010). Interpersonal psychotherapy: A case of postpartum depression [Video file]. Mill Valley, CA:

Alternative Expert Answer and Explanation

Psychotherapy is a term used for the treatment of mental health issues through talking to a mental health provider such as psychologist or psychiatrist. This paper will look at two forms of psychotherapy, namely supportive and interpersonal. Similarities and difference among other things will be discussed regarding the two. Supportive therapy can be defined as a therapist attempt, through any practical approaches, to assist patients deal with their problems and emotional distress (Neuman, 2018). On the other hand, interpersonal psychotherapy is an evidence-based, focused, and time-limited approach in the treatment of mood disorders.

Interpersonal and Supportive Psychotherapies Similarities

The similarities between these two types of psychotherapies is that they are better at minimizing depression symptoms than the normal care. Besides, both interpersonal and supportive psychotherapies give equally good results for different patient groups that are suffering from depression. For example, younger and older people as well as mothers that experience depression after child birth. Additionally, both approaches are effective and efficient in combating phobias as patients are encouraged to discuss their problems and ventilate their feelings.

Interpersonal and Supportive Psychotherapies Differences

Interpersonal psychotherapy tends to focus on the relationships a patient has with their peer, and family, and how they perceive themselves. This psychotherapy is based on discovering or exploring problems in relationships with other people with the objective of helping individuals modify and detect problems or interpersonal complications, to manage and to comprehend relation issues (Vanda Counseling and Psychological Services, 2015).

However, supportive psychotherapy focuses on the attempts by a therapist to help patients deal or handle their distress in living and emotional problems by any practical approached. Therefore, it is more of an emotional outlet in which a therapist will listen attentively and emphatically, encourage, reassure, comfort, and advice.

Through supportive psychotherapy, a patient can adequately express themselves. The aim of supportive psychotherapy is improve patient functioning, defenses, self-esteem, while interpersonal psychotherapy aims to enable a patient to have better control over mood and behavior (, 2018). Supportive psychotherapy is also used to help individuals with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorder.

However, interpersonal psychotherapy has not been proven as an effective approach of the treatment of psychotic disorders. Additionally, while supportive therapy can the days to years, interpersonal only takes a definitive  12 to 16 week of therapy.

The difference in these two psychotherapies will assist me to decide the different ways in which the problems facing patients can be approached. For example, integrating the two will be instrumental in assisting patients deal with their current and past issues. In the case of interpersonal psychotherapy, it will assist me to help patients handle their current problems such as domestic abuse and bullying. Lastly, supportive psychotherapy will assist me to help patient deal with current and past challenges such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Therapeutic Approach to Use

Supportive psychotherapy is the therapeutic approach that I would use because it assists patients deal with a large and different spectrum of their problems. Beside, this approach provides a long-term change instead of a short-term compliance. Additionally, the desire for change with this approach comes from within the patient and is not imposed upon by a counselor (Staff, 2018). Thus, the probability is raised of this approach having a long-lasting impact. Additionally, the patient following this approach will have a fast therapeutic process as they can freely share their feelings and be listened to from a point of genuine empathy.

References (2018). Psychotherapy and defense mechanisms – Knowledge for medical students and physicians. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2020].

Neuman, F. (2018). Supportive Psychotherapy. [online] Psychology Today. Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2020].

Staff, A. (2018). Supportive psychotherapy | Definition. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2020].

Vanda Counseling and Psychological Services. (2015). Strengths and Weaknesses of Interpersonal Psychotherapy – Vanda Counseling and Psychological Services. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Oct. 2020].

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