Interpersonal Behaviour Therapy for Generalized Anxiety Disorders

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Interpersonal therapy in the treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder The World Health Organization (2007) reported 14% of all people aged 16 to 85 years experienced a form of anxiety disorder. In Australia alone, 2.3 million Australian was diagnosed with 12-month anxiety disorder and the annual cost of anxiety disorders and other mental illness was estimated at 20 billion dollars (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). Given its prevalence, development for an effective psychotherapy treatment for anxiety disorder is imperative. Interpersonal distress is a possible causal and maintaining factor for anxiety disorder (Borkovec, Newman, Pincus, & Lytle, 2002), and as interpersonal psychotherapy therapy allows treatment the treatment for such aspect of a client’s life (Hazlett-Stevens, 2008), the approach can yield successive result in treating anxiety. This paper argues that interpersonal psychotherapy serves as an effective treatment method for clients exhibiting symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and will focus on the case of Jane who exhibits symptoms of such disorder. The nature of IPT and its relation with anxiety will be reviewed. Two empirical studies on the efficacy of IPT on anxiety disorders will be examined. This paper proposes IPT as the appropriate treatment for Jane’s disorder and offers two techniques of IPT as an effective treatment plan. Finally, issues with implementing treatment plan will also be explored. Anxiety disorders encompasses a range of different disorders from specific phobias to obsessive-compulsive disorder (Wolfe, 2005), though they are ultimately bound together by the common trait of irrational fear and dread. A category of anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic anxiety condition characterised by excessive and uncontrollable worry, accompanied by somatic symptoms and sleep disturbances (Wolfe, 2005; Hazlett-Stevens, 2008). GAD is typically diagnosed when the symptoms of the patient does not meet the criteria for any other anxiety disorders. Research has linked interpersonal problems as a maintaining, if not causal factor, of anxiety. Among adolescents, problematic intergroup interaction and peer relations in school can cause anxiety (La Grecam & Lopez, 1998; Stepahn, 1992). Evidence has also found a link between interpersonal relationships and panic disorders with agoraphobia (Carter, Turovsky, & Barlow, 1993). Borkovec et al (2002) suggest the role of interpersonal problems in the maintenance of anxiety disorders such as GAD. Thus, focusing on the interpersonal aspects of clients suffering anxiety disorders can yield effective outcomes in therapy. Interpersonal Psychotherapy/Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) is a structured, supportive therapy linking recent interpersonal events to mood or other disorder (Guidelines Developmental Group, 2001). IPT develops treatment around the patient’s interpersonal relations with others, be it their co-worker, spouse, or child (Hazlett-Stevens, 2008). The theoretical framework was largely based from the theories of John Bowlby and Harry Stack Sullivan who argues for the correlation between an individual’s relationship with others and their psychopathology (Guidelines Developmental Group, 2001; Markowitz, Skodol, & Bleiberg, 2006; Robertson, 1999; Weissman, 2006). IPT focuses on four core areas of a client’s life such as interpersonal disputes, role transitions, grief and loss, and interpersonal deficits (Guidelines Developmental Group, 2001; Klerman, & Weissman, 2004; Weissman, Markowitz, & Klerman, 2000; Robertson, 1999;). The technique employed during IPT ranges from clarification, role-playing, communication analysis, exploratory techniques, to encouragement of affect (Roberson, 1999; Weissman et al, 2000). The use of IPT is very prominent in treating depression. The original manual of IPT centred on treating depression (Klerman, Weissman, Rounsaville, & Chevron, 1984), and many literatures supported its efficacy in...
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