Group interpersonal psychotherapy or (IPT-G) is essentially a talk therapy program that is facilitated by a trained lay community health worker. IPT was originally co-developed by Dr. Myrna Weissman3 and subsequently used as a therapy in Uganda in 2002 by Dr. Helen Verdeli and others.4 Both Dr. Weissman and Dr. Verdeli participate on StrongMinds’ Advisory Board. The program does not require the use of antidepressant medication for patients -- a fact that is quite important, since access to such medication is limited and costly for most of the African population. Moreover, the group approach has been shown to be acceptable in African contexts, given the strong presence of groups and group work in African cultures.
StrongMinds Therapy Groups focus on the interpersonal relationships of depressed group members and is led by a facilitator who uses a structured model over a period of 12-weeks to help group members identify and understand the root causes and triggers of their depression and then formulate strategies to overcome those triggers. Since depression is episodic and will continue to recur throughout most people’s lives, these newly acquired skills have both an immediate impact and a long-term preventative effect.
We identify patients through individual one-on-one interviews and enroll symptomatic patients (free of charge) in locally run StrongMinds Therapy Groups. Measurement of depressive symptoms for individuals occurs before, during, and after the intervention so that we can accurately monitor progress.