Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy is a specific type of psychotherapy developed to help people with bipolar disorder. Its focus is on helping people identify and maintain the regular routines of everyday life — including sleep patterns — and solving interpersonal issues and problems that may arise that directly impact a person’s routines.
Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT) is founded upon the belief that disruptions of our circadian rhythms and sleep deprivation may provoke or exacerbate the symptoms commonly associated with bipolar disorder. Its approach to treatment uses methods both from interpersonal psychotherapy, as well as cognitive-behavioral techniques to help people maintain their routines. In IPSRT, the therapist works with the client to better understand the importance of circadian rhythms and routines in our life, including eating, sleeping, and other daily activities. Clients are taught to extensively track their moods everyday. Once routines are identified, IPSRT therapy seeks to help the individual keep the routines consistent and address those problems that arise that might upset the routines. This often involves a focus on building better and healthier interpersonal relationships and skills.
When Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy is combined with psychiatric medications, research has shown that people can achieve gains in their targeted lifestyle routines, reduce both manic and depressive symptoms, and increase days of maintaining a consistent, regular mood. Like most psychotherapies, not everyone will respond to a course of IPSRT, but for those people who do respond, most have a reduction in the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder.
Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy is practiced in both inpatient and outpatient settings, but is most often used as a treatment for people who have bipolar disorder in an outpatient, office-based setting. IPSRT is virtually always prescribed in conjunction with psychiatric medications used to treat bipolar disorder, such as lithium or an atypical antipsychotic.
Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy was developed at the Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh by Ellen Frank and her colleagues.