Orientation to IPT-G

Almost everyone joining a group will have some apprehension, so the chance to discuss the proposed group in detail is reassuring. The process of doing so establishes basic rapport between the therapist and patient, which helps to sustain members through the early sessions. An open discussion about the group’s duration, including the date of the final session, allows the therapist to respond to concerns or questions about the rationale for a time-limited approach. In time-limited groups

Table 20.3. Summary Checklist for Pre-group Meeting


Discuss chief complaint and symptoms/syndrome.


Obtain history of symptoms.


Assign patient the “sick role"


Establish whether or not there is a history of prior treatments for the disorders or other


psychiatric problems.


Assess patient’s expectations about psychotherapy.


Reassure patient about positive prognosis.


Explain IPT and its basic assumptions.


Complete an interpersonal inventory (i.e., a detailed review of important relationships):

  • • Review past interpersonal functioning (e.g., family, school, social life).
  • • Examine current interpersonal functioning (e.g., family, work, social life)
  • • Identify the interpersonal precipitants of episodes of symptoms.


Translate symptoms into an interpersonal context.


Explain IPT techniques.


Contract for administrative details (i.e., length of sessions, frequency, duration of treatment, appointment times).


Provide feedback to patient regarding general understanding of IPT problem area(s), interpersonal target goals, and interpersonal triggers.


Collaborate on a contract regarding the treatment goals.


Explain tasks in working toward treatment goals.

such as IPT-G, therapists stress the importance of attendance and punctuality to patients before group treatment begins. We explain that attendance and punctuality have broader implications than in individual therapy because of the deleterious effect on the entire group. We specify the number of sessions that can be missed, recommending no more than four absences for a 20-session group.

Socializing between group members outside of group sessions deserves discussion. As IPT-G highlights the interactional process, we strongly discourage such contact. In the age of Facebook it is difficult to prevent group members from having outside contact. Nonetheless, we clarify as members begin that IPT-G is intensive psychotherapy, and that becoming social friends with other group members may complicate using the group effectively. Confidentiality always deserves discussion, as it will concern almost everyone. (See Table 20.3 for a summary checklist for the individual pre-group meeting.)

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