What is Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy?

Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy (ISTDP) is a brief psychotherapy, developed by Dr. Habib Davanloo. In ISTDP, the basic theory is that most psychological disorders occur due to the emotional effects of disrupted attachments. Interruptions and trauma to human attachments may cause intense feelings that may become blocked and avoided. When things later in life stir up these complex feelings, anxiety and defenses may be activated1.

The anxiety and defenses may be unconscious to the person experiencing them, and the result is a range of physical and psychological symptoms, and interpersonal issues. Often people with anxiety, depression, substance abuse, somatisation, and eating disorders have this emotional blockage1. These unconscious processes can also lead to health problems in bodily systems, including the cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system, immune system, and muscular system1.

How ISTDP works

ISTDP is an interactive therapy where both the therapist and client work together to identify the way the person experiences their anxiety and the defenses which arise to block the painful feelings from surfacing. When these feelings are experienced, anxiety and defenses decrease. They can then see the driving emotional forces that were being defended1. Working through the avoided feelings can often bring about symptom improvement, behavioural changes and help to develop healthy relationships.

We can help

Rachel Braithwaite is skilled and experienced with ISTDP, and is currently open for bookings. Rachel will work with you to develop a tailored treatment plan, and help you recover and improve your wellbeing.

1. Abbass, A. (2015). Reaching through resistance. Kansas City: Seven Leaves Press

Written by Rachel Braithwaite, Psychologist at Seed Psychology