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Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) is a form of psychotherapy that aims to help people with mood disorders improve their mental health by stabilizing their biological and social rhythms. It was developed by Dr. Ellen Frank, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, based on the theory that disruptions in one’s daily routine or interpersonal relationships can trigger mood episodes in people who are vulnerable to mood disorders. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy helps people establish a regular and consistent daily schedule, as well as enhance their interpersonal skills and cope with stressful life events. In this article, we will explore how IPSRT can be used to facilitate self-transcendence, which is the ability to go beyond one’s personal boundaries and connect with a larger reality.
What is IPSRT?
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) is a type of psychotherapy that aims to help people with bipolar disorder and other mood disorders. IPSRT is based on the idea that disruptions in daily routines and social relationships can trigger or worsen mood episodes, and that stabilizing these aspects of life can improve mental health. It combines elements of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) with a focus on regulating sleep-wake cycles, daily activities, and social interactions. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy helps clients identify and address interpersonal issues that may contribute to their mood swings, such as role transitions, grief, interpersonal conflicts, or social isolation. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy also teaches clients how to monitor their mood and symptoms, and how to cope with stressors and prevent relapse.
An IPSRT therapy session
A typical IPSRT session consists of three stages: initial, intermediate, and maintenance.
- In the initial stage, the therapist and the client work together to understand the client’s current and past mood states, and how they are related to their behaviours and interactions with others. The therapist also helps the client choose an interpersonal problem area to focus on during treatment, such as role transitions, grief, interpersonal disputes, or social isolation.
- In the intermediate stage, the client keeps a daily chart of their social rhythms, such as when they wake up, eat, work, socialize, and go to bed. The therapist reviews this chart with the client every week, and helps them develop strategies to regularize their routines and cope with any challenges or changes. The therapist also helps the client work on their interpersonal problem area, using techniques from interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), such as communication skills, conflict resolution, and emotional expression.
- In the maintenance stage, the client continues to monitor their social rhythms and practice their interpersonal skills, while gradually reducing the frequency of sessions. The therapist provides ongoing support and feedback, and helps the client prevent relapse and maintain their mood stability.
IPSRT is usually delivered in combination with medication, and can be done in individual, group, or remote settings. It has been shown to be effective in reducing mood symptoms, improving social functioning, and enhancing quality of life for people with bipolar disorder.
IPSRT and self-transcendence
One of the goals of IPSRT is to foster self-transcendence, which is the ability to go beyond one’s personal concerns and connect with something larger and more meaningful. self-transcendence can be achieved by engaging in activities that promote a sense of purpose, belonging, and spirituality. For example, some people may find self-transcendence through volunteering, meditating, praying, or being in nature. self-transcendence can also be cultivated by developing a positive and supportive network of friends and family who share one’s values and goals.
self-transcendence can have several benefits for people with bipolar disorder. It can help them cope with the challenges and stigma of living with a chronic mental illness. It can also reduce the risk of depression and suicide by providing a sense of hope and optimism. Furthermore, it can enhance the effectiveness of IPSRT by increasing one’s motivation and adherence to treatment. By practising self-transcendence, people with bipolar disorder can achieve a more balanced and fulfilling life.
Example use cases
Some example use cases where IPSRT has helped with self-transcendence are:
- A young woman who struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts found meaning and purpose in volunteering for a local animal shelter. She also learned to manage her sleep and wake cycles better by following the natural rhythms of the animals.
- A middle-aged man who experienced manic episodes and alienated his family and friends learned to cope with his emotions and communicate more effectively with his loved ones. He also discovered a passion for photography and joined a club where he could share his work and learn from others.
- An elderly woman who suffered from loneliness and anxiety after losing her husband found comfort and support in joining a grief group. She also developed a regular routine of walking, meditating, and reading inspirational books that helped her cope with her loss and find hope for the future.
If you want to learn more about IPSRT, here are some weblinks for further reading: