Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP)
ISTD works by helping a person to notice the anxiety they experience and defences they use when faced with the painful realities of life. The person is then helped to experience less anxiety and let go of their maladaptive defences that cause their problems.
Life is full of pain. We get hurt, people let us down, things change. We cope with defences: trying not to think about the pain, laughing it off, by keeping busy, etc. Although there is nothing wrong with avoiding the pain in these ways, sometimes it is not enough and sometimes the defences start to cause their own problems. ISTDP will help you to see the defences you use, how your defences can harm you, and why you learnt to use these defences.
Although we live in a world that is, by historical standards, safe, our bodies are nonetheless equipped to perceive and respond to danger. When threatened, our body prepares to defend itself. Our heart might start beating faster, our muscles might tighten, our intestines might gurgle, we may get dizzy, our thoughts may become fuzzy. These physical responses are anxiety: our body’s reaction to danger, sometimes known as the flight-fight-freeze-flop response. Yet, it is not just the outside world that can cause our body to respond with anxiety; the body can learn that its own internal state is a source of threat. ISTDP will help you notice your anxiety, identify its cause, and overcome it.
We cannot avoid the pain of life, and when we try to do so, we risk causing ourselves to suffer. While pain is unavoidable, suffering is optional: you need not suffer. ISTDP will help you to discover the hidden pains that underlie your current suffering, so you have the choice of facing the pain, ending your suffering, and moving on with your life.
What can I expect if I receive intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy?
- A collaborative process, ISTDP begins by exploring your problem and its beginning.
- Goals will be agreed between you and your therapist and reviewed periodically throughout therapy.
- Your therapist will watch for anxiety and defences that may emerge to hint at the underlying issues that causes your presenting issues.
- You will be helped to notice and monitor your anxiety.
- If your anxiety becomes too great, your therapist will slow the session and, when necessary, teach you simple techniques to downregulate your anxiety, that you can then use at home if you wish.
- You will be helped to notice the ways you cope with distress, consider their costs, and link them to your problems.
- Through a process of enquiry, your therapist will invite you to experience the healing power of your feelings – all feelings – in a non-judgemental, accepting, and safe way.
- You will then be helped to make links between the past and present, to understand why you learnt to cope in the way that you did.
- When you are ready, you will be invited to let go of your old, maladaptive ways of coping, so you can experience a new, healthier, happier, and more engaged way of living.