In recently-published research, Lemmens and colleagues (2015) find cognitive therapy (CT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) equally effective for depression. CT and IPT are considered effective treatments for depression but few studies have compared the two therapies. CT focuses on negative thinking that’s thought to be at the root of depression. IPT, by contrast, focuses on understanding depression in terms of the patient’s personal relationships. In a previous study, IPT was found effective for severe depression whereas CT was not. In another study, the opposite was reported. Thus, the study by Lemmens and colleagues informs the controversy over whether one therapy is more effective than the other overall and specifically for severe depression. In this, one of the largest published comparisons of CT and IPT, 151 depressed adults were randomized to receive one of the two therapies. The treatments were delivered by licensed therapists who were trained by leading experts in cognitive and interpersonal therapies. Each psychotherapy was more effective than a waiting list control but no more effective than the other. Moreover, both treatments were equally effective for severe depression. Depression scores five months after the end of treatment were similar in both treatments. Thus, this study makes a significant contribution to the literature by suggesting that IPT and CT can be equally efficacious, even in the longer term, and even for severe depression.
Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR)
Marna S. Barrett, Ph.D.
Mood & Anxiety Disorders Treatment Research Unit
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
3535 Market St., Suite 670
Philadelphia, PA 19104