Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy: How Does it Work?

December 29, 2023

image representing dynamic interpersonal therapy

DIT (dynamic interpersonal therapy) helps people explore challenging experiences from the past, with a particular focus on earlier relational conflicts, to gain insight into their impact on current emotions and behaviors.

What Is Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy?

Dynamic interpersonal therapy is structured form of psychotherapy that aims to address psychological distress. The time-limited nature of treatment means it is also known as brief dynamic interpersonal therapy.

This form of talk therapy mainly focuses on the identification and understanding of the underlying emotional and relational dynamics which contribute to emotional problems. The therapy is grounded in the recognition that our relationships and interactions with others can significantly shape our emotional health.

In interpersonal dynamic therapy, the therapist and client work together to explore past interpersonal experiences, especially those that have been difficult or troubling. By examining these past relationships, the therapy helps uncover patterns that may be influencing the person’s current thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The goal is to understand and change these patterns to improve emotional well-being and interpersonal functioning. This form of therapy is often used to treat depression and a variety of other emotional and psychological difficulties.

an icon image of a lightbulb

Need Help Getting Mental Health Treatment?

How Does Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy Work?

Dynamic interpersonal therapy works by creating a focused space where a therapist and client collaboratively examine the client’s interpersonal relationships and patterns. The process unfolds over a specific number of sessions, usually around 16 to 20, and follows a structured framework.

The therapy begins with an initial phase where the therapist helps the client identify a core repetitive pattern of relating that causes distress. This pattern is often rooted in past relationships but continues to affect current interactions and the client’s emotional state.

Once the pattern is identified, the middle phase of DIT involves exploring these interpersonal dynamics in depth. The therapist encourages the client to reflect on their emotions and the way they interact with others, both outside and within the therapy sessions. By examining these interactions, the client can gain insight into how their way of relating might contribute to their psychological symptoms.

The therapist supports the client in recognizing alternative ways of relating that could lead to more satisfying interactions and improved emotional health. Through this therapeutic exploration, the client learns to understand and manage their feelings more effectively and to change unhelpful interpersonal behaviors.

The final phase of DIT focuses on consolidating gains, reflecting on what has been learned, and preparing the client for the end of the therapy. The person is encouraged to continue using the insights and strategies they have developed to maintain emotional and relational improvements beyond the therapy sessions.

a person in therapy representing what is dynamic interpersonal therapy

Who Can Benefit from Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy?

Dynamic interpersonal therapy can benefit individuals who are experiencing psychological distress primarily rooted in interpersonal difficulties. It is particularly beneficial for those who are dealing with:

  • Persistent emotional difficulties: Such as those related to self-esteem, identity, and chronic feelings of loneliness or dissatisfaction in relationships.
  • Depression: Especially when symptoms are linked to relationship problems.
  • Anxiety disorders: Where interpersonal conflicts or anxieties are central to the condition.
  • Interpersonal trauma: For individuals trying to cope with the aftermath of traumatic relationships or events that continue to affect their way of relating to others.

DIT is designed for individuals who can engage in a structured, time-limited therapy and are motivated to explore their relational patterns. It is not typically recommended for those with severe mental health conditions that may require a more intensive or long-term therapeutic approach. As with any therapy, the suitability of DIT for a person should be determined in consultation with a qualified mental health professional who can consider the person’s unique circumstances and needs.


Is dynamic interpersonal therapy suitable for those with severe personality disorders?

DIT may not be the first line of treatment for severe personality disorders as it is a brief, structured intervention best suited for specific issues related to interpersonal relationships and mild to moderate mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

Can dynamic interpersonal therapy be conducted in group settings?

While DIT is primarily designed as an individual therapy, some principles and practices from DIT can be adapted for group settings, focusing on interpersonal interactions within the group dynamic.

How long does dynamic interpersonal therapy typically last?

Dynamic interpersonal therapy is a short-term therapy, generally spanning 16 to 20 sessions, with each session typically lasting around 50 minutes. It is structured to provide insight and improvement within this brief timeframe.

two people embracing, representing the question how does dynamic interpersonal therapy work

Get Therapy for Mental Health Disorders at Connections

The number of U.S. adults grappling with mental health issues continues to rise. Our goal at Connections Mental Health in Southern California is to connect people with the immersive inpatient mental health treatment they need to restore functioning.

There are numerous mental health disorders and personality disorders, meaning that everyone has a unique struggle with mental health. We understand thus and we tailor treatment accordingly.

Our luxury beachside facility is small by design. We want to create a welcoming and homely environment where you can engage with treatments grounded in the latest psychiatric science, as well as a variety of holistic interventions.

You can access powerful peer support as you participate in individual and group therapy sessions. This enables you to gain insights and coping techniques from others with lived experience of mental health issues.

When you are ready to engage with a range of therapies to improve your mental health and well-being, call 844-413-0009.

Want to Learn More?
Recent Articles
an image of someone dealing with the 5 stages of psychosis

February 15, 2024

What Are The 5 Stages of Psychosis?

Psychosis is a term used to describe a mental state where an individual struggles to differentiate between their thoughts and reality. This condition can manifest

image representing how to help someone who self harms

February 14, 2024

How to Help Someone Who Self-Harms

Self-harm is not a cry for attention, but a cry for help. Fortunately, help with self-harming is available. Whether you need to know how to

image of friends representing joking about suicide

February 13, 2024

Can Joking About Suicide Be a Cry for Help?

Sometimes, when people joke about suicide, it makes others wonder whether it’s their way of dealing with tough feelings, or if something more serious going

image representing bad mental health day

February 12, 2024

What to do on a Bad Mental Health Day

Dealing with stress, especially alongside symptoms of depression or anxiety, can be overwhelming. If you’re sensing that your stress levels are maxing out and you

an image of someone journaling for mental health

February 9, 2024

How to Journal for Mental Health

Journaling is widely recognized as a valuable tool for managing stress, easing symptoms of depression and anxiety, sharpening your focus, and helping to structure your

image representing anxiety and sleep

February 7, 2024

How Are Anxiety and Sleep Connected?

Lack of sleep and anxiety can be interconnected. Anxiety may lead to problems with sleep, and conversely, struggling with insomnia can intensify feelings of anxiety.

an image of people who got help at Connections Mental Health

You’re Not Alone

Get treatment from a team of expert staff who is passionate about helping you experience peace.

Learn more about the individual mental health disorders we treat by clicking a button below.