What is Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy?

Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) was developed by Dr Habib Davanloo in Canada from the 1960s with collaboration from Dr David Malan from the UK. He examined hundreds of hours of video tape of his patients in order to identify which interventions were helpful in promoting change and which were not. ISTDP is now practiced in many countries throughout the world including most of Europe, the USA and Canada.

During the session the patient will be invited to be an active participant in the process of exploration and change. The therapist will help the patient to recognise and relinquish unhelpful defences as they occur and to develop increased sensitivity to their emotional states. Freer awareness of underlying emotions thoughts and impulses reduces anxiety and the likelihood of unhelpful impulsive behaviour. As a result of the reduction in defences the origin of the problem emerges in a felt and immediate way, and this can then be worked with in the light of understanding.

ISTDP differs from most traditional counselling or standard psychoanalytic psychotherapy in that it is more active and emotionally focussed than traditional psychotherapy or counselling. Although all counsellors and psychotherapists work differently, as a general rule traditional counselling and psychotherapy tend to be less focussed with fewer interventions by the therapist. It is this relative activity and focus that leads to more rapid change and a briefer span of therapy.

ISTDP is effective across a broad range of emotional difficulties including stress, depression, anxiety disorders, anger, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorders and somatic complaints. If you are in any doubt about whether ISTDP would be helpful please contact me. You can review the research on the effectiveness of ISTDP here, or to find out more about ISTDP please visit these links:

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