Your Mini-Guide on Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT)

Last Update on November 17, 2023 : Published on November 19, 2023
Interpersonal And Social Rhythm Therapy

As mental health awareness increases, so does the knowledge about various therapeutic approaches used to treat different mental health and emotional health conditions. Among these approaches, there comes interpersonal and social rhythm therapy or IPSRT, a therapy technique to help treat mood disorders such as bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. 

Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy is a unique therapy approach that combines elements of psychotherapy and lifestyle or social management to address the complexities between interpersonal relationships and day-to-day routines. 

Interpersonal social rhythm therapy is based on the idea that changes in your routine can trigger mood imbalances in people who are vulnerable to mood disorders. Similarly, having disagreements or conflicts with your loved one can affect your mood as well. IPSRT focuses on addressing your lifestyle to build consistency. 

So, how does this IPSRT work? How does it help address mood disorders? What to know before getting started? Let’s explore these answers in this blog. 

What is Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT)?

Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT) is a form of psychotherapy designed to assist people with mood disorders, particularly bipolar disorder. Developed by Dr. Ellen Frank and her colleagues, IPSRT is rooted in the idea that maintaining stable daily routines and fostering healthy interpersonal relationships can contribute to mood stability. 

The principle of IPSRT is the recognition that disturbance in social rhythms, such as sleep patterns, meal times, conflicts in interpersonal relationships, and daily activities, can trigger or worsen mood imbalances in people with mood disorders. These disruptions often occur due to life events, stressors, or irregular routines, leading to mood fluctuations.

In an IPSRT session, you and your therapist sit together to understand the impact of day-to-day stressors in your life.

How Does IPSRT Work? 

In IPSRT, there are three stages involved; 

1. Initial Stage

In this stage, the therapist will work to help you understand that the causes of your mood imbalance are not you and that there is no medical reason. They’ll help you identify your mood patterns, examine how your relationships are connected to your mood changes, and what area in your life can you improve. This stage can last for several sessions. 

2. Intermediate Stage

In this stage, you use a social rhythm metric tracking to track the progress of your social activities, review your progress with your therapist, and incorporate any feedback that your therapist gives you. During this stage, you’ll be applying any routine changes and focus on developing coping skills. 

3. Maintenance stage

This is the final stage of IPSRT where you work on the coping skills and other skills you’ve learned during your sessions. At this stage, the sessions with your therapist are not as frequent and all your focus is on applying your hard-learned skills to your daily routine. 

IPSRT Techniques

Interpersonal social rhythm therapy can include different techniques. Some of the most common techniques used in this approach include; 

1. Psychoeducation

IPSRT starts with educating you more about the connection between your social rhythms, interpersonal relationships, and mood imbalances. Understanding these connections can make you feel confident in taking an active role in changing your condition. 

2. Setting Routines

This therapy approach puts great emphasis on setting consistent daily routines. This involves setting regular sleep and wake times, sticking to a regular meal schedule, and engaging in daily activities. 

3. Interpersonal Conflicts

Interpersonal social rhythm also addresses interpersonal conflicts and disagreements. By improving communication skills and improving relationships, you can work through interpersonal challenges more effectively, reducing triggers for mood disturbances.

4. Managing Social Zeitgebers

Zeitgebers are external cues that help you regulate your internal biological clock. IPSRT helps you identify and manage these cues, such as exposure to natural light, physical activity, and social interactions.

What IPSRT Can Help With?

IPSRT can have many benefits such as; 

  • It helps build confidence and improve relationship skills 
  • It helps replace toxic relationships with supportive ones
  • It helps you remember your day-to-day tasks 
  • It helps you improve your sleep and daily lifestyle 
  • It helps improve your mood and bring a sense of stability in your life 

There are many issues that IPSRT can help with, but its main objective is to help regulate and stabilize mood by maintaining regular routines and addressing interpersonal challenges. By reducing disruptions in social interactions, you may experience fewer mood swings and better emotional states. 

Another thing interpersonal social rhythm can help prevent is relapses, especially in people with bipolar disorder. The therapy also focuses on enhancing communication, empathy, and conflict-resolution skills. This can help you build better and healthier relationships and reduce stressors that might contribute to mood imbalances. 

In a 2020 study, it was found that people with bipolar disorder who received IPSRT exhibited changes and improvements in anxiety, depressive, and manic symptoms. Other studies are examining the use of interpersonal social rhythm therapy to help people with major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bereavement in older people. 

Things to Know Before Starting IPSRT

Before you get started with interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, you need to understand a few things; 

  • IPSRT can benefit people diagnosed with bipolar disorder or those struggling with mood disorders with links to disruptions in daily routines and interpersonal relationships.
  • Setting consistent routines and working on interpersonal relationships needs dedication and effort. If you want to incorporate interpersonal social rhythm into your life, then you need to be willing to actively engage in the therapeutic process.
  • IPSRT should be conducted by a professional and trained mental health counselor, someone who has experience in working with mood disorders. Do not seek treatment with IPSRT if the therapist does not have the correct experiences or licenses. 

How to Get Started?

  • You can start by first seeking an assessment from a mental health professional. Once you’re evaluated for your condition, the therapist will determine if IPSRT is an appropriate treatment for you. 
  • Once your assessment deems the therapy approach OK, you can look for therapists who specialize in IPSRT or have experience with mood disorders. Online platforms, mental health clinics, and referrals from others can help. 
  • Talk to your therapist and set specific goals for treatment. Whether it’s improving your mood, improving relationships, or preventing relapses, having clear objectives will guide your progress smoothly. 
  • Make sure you engage in therapy sessions actively, practice the techniques you’ve learned, and maintain open and honest communication with your therapist about whatever you experience – challenge or not.
  • At last, it’s important to remember that consistency is key in any therapy. You need to stick to the schedule and apply the strategies you learn consistently to see the positive changes in your life.  

Wrapping Up…

Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) offers a unique approach to managing mood disorders by focusing on stabilizing day-to-day routines and improving interpersonal relationships. Through the various techniques, IPSRT aims to provide you with the right tools you need to lead a stable and fulfilling life

If you or your loved ones are struggling with mood disturbances or mood disorders, then IPSRT can be a valuable solution. Make sure you talk to a mental health professional before starting the therapy. 

I hope this blog helped you understand interpersonal and social rhythm therapy and how it can help improve your mood and relationships. Let me know what you think about this therapy in the comments below. 

Take Care!

About The Author

Swarnakshi Sharma
Swarnakshi Sharma

Swarnakshi is a content writer at Calm sage, who believes in a healthier lifestyle for mind and body. A fighter and survivor of depression, she strives to reach and help spread awareness on ending the stigma surrounding mental health issues. A spiritual person at heart, she believes in destiny and the power of Self. She is an avid reader and writer and likes to spend her free time baking and learning about world cultures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

As Seen On