Concluding Acute Treatment and Maintenance
The provision of acute treatment with IPT comes to a conclusion as specified by the therapeutic contract. However, rather than using the traditional psychoanalytic model in which ‘termination’ is a complete severing of the therapeutic relationship, the completion of acute treatment with IPT simply signifies the conclusion of a specific intensive phase of treatment. In IPT this does not signify the end of the therapeutic relationship – in fact, it is often agreed that the patient and therapist will have therapeutic contacts in the future, and provision is specifically made for these. Clinical experience has consistently demonstrated that a longitudinal therapeutic relationship is beneficial for most patients, and this position is also clearly supported by empirical evidence. Not only are many of the major psychiatric disorders (such as depression and anxiety disorders) relapsing and remitting in nature, but there is also clear evidence that provision of IPT as a maintenance treatment after recovery from depression is helpful in preventing relapse.1 Because of the therapeutic benefit of maintenance treatment and the evidence supporting its utility, the therapist is obligated to discuss continuing maintenance treatment with all patients treated with IPT.