Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP)

My primary approach to psychotherapy is ISTDP. It is a brief psychotherapy approach that was first developed by Dr. Habib Davanloo in the 1960s and 1970s. The basic understanding of mental health disorder from an ISTDP perspective is this:

Human beings are social creatures. One of the five things we need to be well is tribe – our relationships, our attachments. Sometimes the attachment bond is damaged by things like loss of a loved one, abuse, separation from parents and many more. Damage to those attachments often trigger a range of emotions including love, grief, anger, and guilt. These mixed emotions are either worked through and released or avoided and blocked up.

From an ISTDP point of view it is the way we avoid these unwanted painful feelings that is at the root of our suffering. We might have learned to avoid unwanted feelings by becoming tense and worrying (anxiety), fearful of social situations (social anxiety), becoming hopeless and self-critical (depression), becoming physically ill (migraines, heart-burn, upset stomach), or turning to addiction (drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc).

Events later in life, such as divorce or death of a parent can often re-trigger old emotions. When we are faced with having to deal with the mixed feelings of both the present day and the past our symptoms of anxiety, depression, or relationship difficulties get worse.

There are two goal in ISTDP: 1) help you see  the automatic ways you avoid mixed, often painful feelings, and 2) help you stop avoiding those feelings and help you work through and release them. Once those feelings are worked through the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and illness reduce or disappear because the feelings don’t need to be avoided anymore.

ISTDP can be a very challenging form of therapy, but it is capable of producing rapid relief for many mental health difficulties – anxiety, depression, physical illness connected to stress, personality and interpersonal difficulties.