Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy which is based on the premis that human suffering is the result of the various defenses used to ward off the painful and complex emotions related to broken attachments from early life. These painful feelings trigger anxiety, which then leads to defense. Repression, acting out, isolation of affect, avoidance, projection, and resistance to emotional closeness are some of the typical defenses clients have learned to use to regulate affect and anxiety. Unfortunately, defenses come at a cost to our client’s emotional well-being, as defenses keep one in a state of “emotional limbo” and are often destructive to the formation of healthy interpersonal relationships. In a nutshell, our clients defenses are their “presenting problems” in therapy.

In ISTDP, the therapist is very active and the sessions are quite focused. The therapist actively intervenes to regulate client anxiety, help the client to become aware of and to turn against their self-defeating defenses, and to encouraged them to experience their true feelings in the session as fully and deeply as possible. Their is a growing body of empirical research that has found ISTDP efficacious in the treatment of such disorders as depression, panic disorder, anxiety, personality disorders, and somatizsation (see below for more information).

Wikipedia has a decent overview of ISTDP. You can find that here.

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