[Review] Interpersonal Process in Psychotherapy

IPT2ndeditionInterpersonal Process in Psychotherapy: A Guide for Clinical Training. Edward Teyber, 1992. 269 pages. Brooks/Cole Publishing. ISBN 0-534-16920-1.

I found this little gem sitting on a shelf with other books marked “Free” so I picked it up. What a great find! The first thing I noticed about the book was that it was written to assist counseling students entering their practicum/internship phase and seeing their very first clients. Talk about synchronicity! That is exactly where I was when I found it!

The second thing I noticed was that the book was rather dated (over 20 years old). After a quick search on Amazon.com, I found the text has gone through many changes with the most recent edition being published in 2010 under the title: Interpersonal Process in Therapy: An Integrative Model (linked to image). It is also considered a “textbook” which means it now costs over a hundred bucks. Funny how when a book goes from “book” to “textbook” the price quadruples.

The book starts off by acknowledging most students who enter the field of counseling/therapy already possess sensitivity, intuition, common sense, and a genuine concern for others. While these traits are both necessary and useful, left alone they do not prepare one to enter an affect-laden therapeutic relationship. To be effective, those qualities must be tied to a conceptual framework. The interpersonal process approach is a combination of three theories: interpersonal, object relations, and family systems. In short, the assumptions are that problems are interpersonal in nature, familial experience is a valuable source for learning about ourselves and others, and the relationship between counselor and client can be used to resolve those problems.

I am reminded at this point of numerous studies that show the most effective form of treatment is not the theory the counselor/therapist uses but the rapport built between the counselor/therapist and the client. Theories certainly play a part but the type of theory (i.e., Gestalt, Psychodynamic, Analytical, etc.) takes a backseat role to the relationship between counselor and client. And this makes sense as it would be difficult to introduce an effective theory-driven intervention to a client when the relationship is not clicking.

The interpersonal process approach has three goals: (1) establish a significant emotional relationship between counselor and client; (2) to effect change the counselor must be able to respond effectively to the client’s emotions and inner life; and (3) conceptualization of the client’s personality and problems to determine what experiences the client needs in the therapeutic relationship to change.

Teyber has divided the book into four parts with the first being an introduction and overview of the approach and the other three corresponding to the three goals: relationship, dynamics, and change. Throughout the text Teyber provides sample dialogues and vignettes to clarify the concepts he introduces. These were most helpful to me as it is one thing to read about a concept and quite another to see that concept in action.

Several things really stood out for me in each section. The first was the relationship process. Teyber provides an excellent question for counselors to ask themselves after the initial session with a client: “Do I feel like I made contact with this person and have a genuine feeling for who he or she is?” Building a working alliance with a client is of the utmost importance and the answer to this question lets you know if you are starting off on the right track. Under the dynamics section, Teyber proposes a basic tenet that the client’s conflict will usually be reenacted with the counselor within the process of therapy. To assist the counselor through this process, Teyber provides a model for conceptualizing the client’s dynamics. The model does not suggest how counselors can intervene with the clients but rather provides a framework for understanding. Finally, Teyber emphasizes that if the counselor listens for patterns, themes, and recurring feelings the client expresses and responds to the client’s affect, this works to keep the client an active participant in the change process.

There is so much in this little book as Teyber takes the reader from the initial session to the last session. Now that the revised edition has added another 250 or so pages, I can only imagine how in-depth the text has become.

This would be a “Highly Recommended” book if it weren’t for the incredible expense of the new version.


Note about ratings:

 Rate  Meaning
 Highly Recommended  Seriously check this out!
 Recommended  I liked it and you might, too.
 Meh  Not bad but not good either
 Yawn  Need something to help you sleep?
 Seriously?  Someone actually wrote this?




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