Toward an Adaptation of Interpersonal Psychotherapy for Hispanic Patients With DSM-IV Major Depressive Disorder

Background: Spanish-speaking individuals comprise a growing percentage of the United States population. They have greater difficulty than most in accessing and remaining in psychiatric treatments, including psychotherapy, their stated preference. The literature on cultural competence in treating Hispanic patients provides few details of psychotherapeutic adaptations.

Objective: This article, based on interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) supervision for a low-socioeconomic sample of monolingual Spanish-speaking New York City patients, describes culturally specific psychotherapy.

Method: In conducting IPT for Spanish-speaking patients with DSM-IV major depressive disorder, we reviewed cases in weekly supervision over 3 years (January 2005 to January 2008) to explore treatment themes and evaluate the congruence of IPT in addressing them. Important themes are illustrated by case example.

Results: Key themes include (1) the centrality of family, (2) conflicts due to migration and acculturation, (3) gender roles, (4) need to avoid humiliating or irrevocable social confrontation, and (5) equanimity in facing an unpredictable environment.

Conclusion: IPT appears a compatible intervention, focusing on and adaptable to these important issues for Hispanic patients.


J Clin Psychiatry 2009;70(2):214-222