Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) is a unique form of psychodynamic treatment that facilitates the rapid resolution of a broad spectrum of emotional disorders. It is an evidence-based psychotherapy that is strongly supported by current clinical research studies. ISTDP interventions are specifically designed to resolve anxiety, depression, somatisation and personality disorders, as well as alleviate a variety of self-defeating behaviours, many of which derive from unstable or troubled early life attachments.

Treatment Format

Initial session: this is usually a 2-hour meeting to assess your problems and needs. 

Follow up sessions: 60 or 90 minute weekly sessions. 90 or 120 minute fortnightly sessions. 3-hour ‘Block therapy’ fortnightly or monthly

To accomplish the above goals, the ISTDP therapist is an active advocate of change rather than a neutral observer as in traditional analysis. The attitude of the ISTDP therapist is that the patient’s time is irreplaceable and comprehensive change is possible in a reasonable, cost-effective time frame.

The distinctive characteristics of ISTDP are:

  •   The depth to which unconscious feelings are experienced in a full and healthy way
  •   A focus on unconscious anxiety pathways and anxiety regulation
  •   The degree of clarity and focus on maladaptive defences
  •   Audio-visual recording of all sessions

Whilst ISTDP has shared roots with classical psychoanalysis, it also differs in important ways. The ISTDP therapist is not ‘neutral’ but rather is an active advocate for change and health. Instead of making interpretations, the ISTDP therapist emphasises the importance of experiencing core emotions and relies on non-interpretative interventions to address anxiety and defences. In this way, emotional processing is bolstered and freedom gained from distressing symptoms and maladaptive patterns of behaviour relating to self and to others.

ISTDP is an attachment-based model and the work of Dr Robert Neborsky emphasises the importance of attachment.

An extensive body of published research evidence supports the efficacy of ISTDP as a treatment for a wide variety of emotional problems. These include depression, anxiety, psychosomatic illness and personality disorders. Studies demonstrate that benefits are not only maintained in the long term but can also increase after termination.