ISTDP: A Unique Approach

Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy

As your therapist, I would work with you in partnership to address whatever problems you are suffering from. One way we could do this is by using a unique approach known as ISTDP.

ISTDP is an emotion-based therapy method in which we address your goals and difficulties in an active and focused way.

Compared with traditional psychotherapy, ISTDP often provides much faster symptom relief. Research has shown that ISTDP can address a wide spectrum of issues, including:

  • depression

  • anxiety

  • relationship difficulties

  • stagnation and procrastination

  • personality disorders

  • trauma and abuse


ISTDP has also proven effective in treating medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS), including headaches, backaches, body aches, and IBS. (See MUPS page for more information.)

What Should I Expect From Our First Meeting?

Our first meeting would usually be an extended session of two to three hours. In this initial meeting, we begin to work together toward accomplishing five key objectives:

  1. Understand the difficulties that are bringing you to treatment.

  2. Clarify your most important goals.

  3. Pay close attention to you and your emotions.

  4. Practice regulating anxiety as we explore the problems you have come to address.

  5. Pay close attention to the mental habits that may be contributing to the difficulties you are having.

By the end of this initial, extended session, we usually have some idea about what’s causing your symptoms and suffering. 

Research has shown that many people experience symptom relief from this initial session alone.[1] For 25% of people who complete an initial session of 2–3 hours, these improvements are moderate to large.



[1] Abbass, A., Town, Ogrodniczuk, J., Joffres, M., Lilliengren, P. (2017). Intensive Short-term Dynamic Psychotherapy Trial Therapy: Effectiveness and Role of “Unlocking the Unconscious,” The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 205, pp. 453-457.


For more information about ISTDP, visit the ISTDP Institute.

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