Psychotherapy in the Digital Age: What We Can Learn From Interpersonal Psychotherapy.
The digital age poses new challenges for psychotherapy. More than four billion people worldwide use the Internet, and most of them engage with social media. Therapists are increasingly asked to help patients navigate the complex interface between online technology and relationships, but few are prepared to address this issue therapeutically. Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is an evidence-based psychotherapy for depression and is focused on addressing interpersonal problems. The authors use the IPT framework to explore how therapists can discuss, during in-person sessions, the impact of technology on communication and relationships. The authors describe how therapists can preserve IPT’s overarching goal of resolving interpersonal problems by adapting specific techniques to meet the needs of patients who routinely rely on technology to connect with others. Case vignettes illustrate techniques used to evaluate and modify technology-based communication, including problematic text-based interactions. Recommendations are provided for therapists seeking to meet the interpersonal needs of patients in the digital age.