What Does IPC Stand For? The Definition And More

By Sarah Fader

Updated January 24, 2019

Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC

What Does IPC Stand for?

IPC stands for Interpersonal Counseling. It stems from Interpersonal Therapy, or IPT, and has shown to be extremely effective in clinical settings, especially in treating depression.


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What is IPT?

Knowing the definition of IPT, Interpersonal Therapy, is crucial to understanding its derivative, IPC. IPT is an evidence-based psychotherapy model developed by Klerman and Weissman that focuses on social roles and relationships and how to improve those relationships in the present. According to CRCHealth, IPT provides benefits such as improved relationships, healthier coping skills, and a reduction in negative behaviors.

IPT is used for psychological and mental health assessments and mental health therapy and care over a sustained period. It is considered to be a short-term therapy, usually lasting a few months, and has shown to be effective in treating depression addiction, eating disorders, and bipolar disorder, among others. Clients are always welcome to come back for a follow-up session, but most of the work is done in a few months.


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What is IPC?

IPC, or Interpersonal Counseling, is a derivative of IPT and can be considered to be briefer yet more structured than IPT. What sets it apart is that it is designed to be used in non-clinical settings. According to an article published in the American Journal of Psychotherapy, IPC is specifically designed to be used in primary care settings by the Affordable Care Act. The fact that IPC is evidence-based and more accessible than traditional mental health treatment means that it aligns with the goals of the Affordable Care Act.

The introduction of IPC has greatly reduced the strain on primary care physicians by providing them with the ability to refer their patients to mental health professionals. It also gives patients options: they can choose whether they would like to receive medication or therapy to help with their presenting problem.

Unlike IPT, however, IPC is used exclusively to help depressed patients. The steps in IPC include identifying depressive symptoms, identifying social or interpersonal triggers for the depression, and identifying the client's resources and mechanism for coping with the problems.

IPC is mostly used in primary care clinics that specialize in treating and counseling people who have symptoms of depression. IPC has shown effectiveness in reducing symptoms of depression and can be used by mental health practitioners who are trained as counselors but not psychiatrists.

A manual in 1983 was written by Dr. Gerald Klerman and Dr. Myrna Weissman based on interpersonal psychotherapy but a simplified version to be used to train professionals who were not mental health specialists so they could treat primary care patients who were suffering from depression symptoms. The doctor/authors called the manual Interpersonal Counseling.

The manual was updated in the 2000s to provide instructions to nurses, social workers, and others who are carefully chosen to be trained and will have had no mental health training. In this way, efficient and cost-effective services and accessible care could be provided to people suffering from depression. The IPC manual was also used to apply psychosocial care to patients caught up in natural disasters or in war-torn countries that could not provide or afford to provide patients with extended psychotherapy.

When the Affordable Care Act (nicknamed Obamacare) was implemented in the U.S., it encouraged the mental health services to be expanded to allow previously uninsured people access to primary care. Most GPs are not trained in psychotherapy, and the need for more IPC trained personnel was seen as a way to relieve the pressure on GPs to provide therapy to depressed patients. Thus grew the expansion of care providers who were trained in IPC to treat people with depression in a limited number of sessions and not long-term and not for serious mental health issues. It has been proven that those who have IPC training can offer low-cost and effective counseling for depression and lessens the burden on physicians. IPC personnel can identify and triage those who need to be sustained, long-term care, find and suggest resources, and, at the same time, offer support until they are transitioned to more sustained treatment by a psychiatrist or a mental health facility offering sustained and more comprehensive treatment or treatment which requires medication. IPC personnel can also identify those patients who do not require long-term treatment or can be categorized as having "transient depressive symptoms." They recognize that depression is often caused by a reaction to stress about things people encounter at home and work. These stressors can often be eliminated, or the patient can be helped to find healthy ways to cope. The symptoms due to stress can often be alleviated after three or five IPC sessions.

Chosen trainees can receive IPC training via the use of videotapes, written materials, small group instructional sessions, and the IPC manual. Consultation between an IPC and IPT is possible and encouraged and found to be very effective.

Thirteen studies were conducted in 2013 by Dr. Menchetti et al. to determine the effectiveness of IPC treatments, and it was found that IPC improves depressive symptoms and improves the patient's ability to function. Dr. Machetti concluded that IPC was "feasible, easy to learn, and well suited to the primary care setting" to alleviate depression. Others have determined that IPC was very effective in treating medically hospitalized geriatric patients who have developed depressive symptoms but do not meet the criteria for major depression or despondency. Patients who have suffered physical trauma have been able to experience decreased distress with IPC treatments. The symptoms of depression were lessened whether they were hospitalized directly after the trauma, or released after their physical injuries were healed. Trauma victims who did not need hospitalization but still suffered from depression were also able to find relief with IPC sessions. People who experience the death of a loved one can fall into a depressive state and can find relief by consulting an IPC practitioner. Mothers suffering postpartum symptoms have also found IPC sessions helpful in understanding the reasons for their depression and have been given ways to cope, find relief, and become a nurturing mother again. Dr. T. Badger et al. also studied the effectiveness of IPC and other treatments to treat women with breast cancer suffering depression. These studies revealed decreased depression and anxiety reported by the women and by their partners after participating in IPC sessions by telephone.

IPC is not limited to mental health professionals. Across the globe, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social works, and mental health professionals have all received training in IPC. With more providers receiving training in IPC, the door is open for full outpatient mental health treatment - an option that current healthcare systems desperately need.


Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Getting the Help You Need

If you find yourself in need of professional mental health help, there are many resources available for you. Know that you are not alone when you seek treatment. As an example, BetterHelp is a company that offers pain online counseling and therapy. This is a company that strives to provide mental health help for those who want to avoid the stigma associated with seeking help anything that relates to mental health.

This company helps people with all sorts of presenting issues. If you find yourself in need of professional help or just want more information about IPC or IPT, reach out. This company is professional, affordable, and convenient. Find out more on their website.


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