Like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT) does not necessarily aim to solve every problem in a depressed person's life nor does it aim to change everything about them and their personality. Interpersonal psychotherapy is also like CBT in that it actively aims to solve problems, is time-limited rather than long-term, is focused rather than open-ended, and is based in the present rather than the past.
In contrast to CBT, IPT focuses less on trying to change unhelpful and self-defeating thoughts and behaviours for their own sake and much more, in fact almost exclusively, on interpersonal relationships. Any problems that are identified, including troubling behaviours and attitudes, are explored in the context of, and in terms of interpersonal relations.
The goals of interpersonal psychotherapy are not dissimilar to other psychological therapies and are very much the same as CBT in that it aims to reduce the troubling symptoms of depression. Once again, however, there is a very strong focus on improving the sufferer's interpersonal functioning (i.e., how they relate to, and interact with other important individuals in their lives).
People who have completed a course of IPT typically report feeling significantly happier and more satisfied with and in their relationships. As a result, they often report improvements in other areas of their lives. Interpersonal psychotherapy is one of the few treatments for depression, along with CBT, that has been proven to be more effective than placebo counseling and at least as effective as antidepressant medications.