ISTDP info


What is ISTDP?

ISTDP stands for "Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy", and is a form of psychotherapy that has been gaining popularity in recent years.

ISTDP belongs to the umbrella group of psychotherapies that fall under the EDT therapies (Experiential Dynamic Therapies)

What effects do we usually see with ISTDP ?

  • Emotions (such as assertiveness, anger, guilt over anger, sadness, grief, love, joy, pride, connectedness) can experience freely and without (unconscious) fear instead of suppressing it (unnoticed).
  • By learning to stop self-sabotaging defense mechanisms such as avoidance, pleasen, prioritizing the other, laughing away, perfectionism and rigor towards yourself and others.
  • This makes you feel more powerful, others can limit themselves, can stand up for yourself without suffering from it themselves, for example in the form of anxiety and worrying thoughts or self-rejection.
  • Then be able to make more real and deeper contact with your real wishes in the relationships with others such as your loved ones and your colleagues, so that you experience more control over your interpersonal functioning. This ensures a firmer attachment, an increase in (emotional) connection, being able to receive and give support, and therefore less loneliness.
  • A better sense of self or self-worth, a sense of grip by developing control over one's own functioning (not infrequently new clients initially tell that they thought or even were told to learn to live with their complaints)
  • Awareness of physical stress symptoms (anxiety), and the development of better anxiety regulation that reduces anxiety symptoms in its entirety (also diseases due to stress can sometimes decrease such as hypertension).
  • Decrease in somatic unexplained physical complaints.


Who is ISTDP therapy suitable for?

For people who are emotionally stuck in their daily lives, because they still function in a kind of survival mode from the time when they were children. Cla
ssically, it seems that within the family of origin, for example, there was no room for the (safe) experience of emotions, so that as a child one learned to suppress emotions in order to survive in a dependency situation. Rejecting one's own feelings is therefore something that we often learn very early during growing up, this rejection can – when this has been done intensively – give rise to complaints and symptoms in adulthood. In addit

ion, one has often taught himself to integrate the (clearly present or subtly hidden) severity or performance orientation of their parents into their own personality. This can manifest
itself in perfectionism and/or burnout, which causes a lot of stress complaints but at the same time also produces things such as diplomas, jobs, money, feeling in control. The rewarding effect can strengthen this pattern over the years, and lead to fatigue, burnout and physical complaint
s. Which is also often learned to prioritize, please, and no longer adequately stand up for one's own interests in the relationship with the other. For example, experiencing anger rarely happens because the guilt over the anger is a painful emotion, also really felt sadness (with a relieved effect in that case) is not rarely suppressed. This suppression of emotions gives complaints and symptoms, and can lead to a depressive disorder, for example.

As a result, people encounter interpersonal problems both at home and in the circle of friends or in partner relationships. They often suffer from all kinds of complaints such as fatigue, gloom and lethargy for some time, but do not always see the problem (or too late). For example, there may be long-term unconscious anxiety complaints, overworking themselves, loneliness, isolating themselves, distracting themselves from an underlying lack of self-feeling or self-worth, while someone stops appearances with performance/mask and a wall to hide the dysfunction and keep others at bay. Many of these people end up getting stuck and then sometimes getting lost in the emergency services, because step 1 treatments do not always (sufficiently) cat

ch on. Often people have all kinds of resistances that manifest themselves, for example, as unconscious and self-undermining defense mechanisms. The function of this is to avoid emotions and thereby keep the (often unconscious) anxiety low. This can sometimes perpetuate the symptoms with step 1 treatments.

What can you achieve with treatment with ISTDP?

In an ISTDP treatment, you will learn to recognize the defense mechanisms with which you avoid your own emotions. Together we will look for the connections of your problems and complaints with your life history, and how you subconsciously maintain the problems in the present. Instead of avoiding and fleeing, you are invited to reflect on your fears and learn to use them as a tool to be able to look at your feelings

. Underlying, there are often unconscious inner conflicts, traumas and unprocessed grief/ grief. Only as soon as these problems are solved by overcoming the (unconscious) fear of experiencing all complex emotions in the relationship with others, through therapy, then the complaints disappear: the fear decreases so that avoidance is no longer necessary, people suddenly dare to admit others into their intimate emotional inner world and to admit and express their thoughts/emotions/wishes/desires. Self-critical thoughts disappear, people can gradually be milder/supportive/compassionate to themselves. Depression and anxiety symptoms disappear.


Responses from EDT clients worldwide

(source: IEDTA website)

This whole process is a miracle, really. I feel free for the first time in my life. That I don't have to repress these feelings. I can experience them and move through them,because on the other side is pleasure. It's a feeling of self. I feel like I'm inside with me now. I'm not alone anymore. It's a funny thing."
–University professor, age 42, with a life-long history of depression and masochism; 10 year follow-up demonstrated profound character change from 20 sessions of therapy

I feel good. I feel centered. Much better than ever. I feel very good about that. I was trying to remember, what are my problems? I couldn't even gather[them]. My thinking is not going out of control. It's pretty calm. Clear. Not confused… about people, situations. I'm not beating myself over the head for things. Like I make decisions, sometimes I make decisions about something I want to do, and in the past I would have felt that it had to be the wrong choice or the wrong thing to do because I wanted to do it, and now I feel, OK, that's what I want to do and I'm just going to do it and enjoy it."
Writer and homemaker, age 36, who had been suffering from migraines, significant regression, and anxiety

"Your face comes to mind often when I am in one of my moods where I'm being unkind to myself and a voice comes up that says," be gentle with yourself. Be kind to this magnificent woman."" I see your eyes and I see the compassion that comes from them and I 'remember' to be present and real in my gentleness, to stop the self-hatred and stop the sabotaging personality from making me miserable."
–Businesswoman, age 50, with lifetime history of depression and promiscuity

My time spent with you in our sessions was very valuable. The work we did was much more on a cellular level than I have ever experienced in therapy. Processing my anger has been very liberating and not only did you give me permission to feel it, you led me through some really deep stuff… The fear of showing my emotion just put me in a complete jail… I felt really empowered by[the therapy] and I continued to feel that way. I'm taking the things that make me the most uncomfortable and I'm going for them. I don't want to feel lousy anymore. I don't want to ever feel depressed. I feel like this is definitely helping me to take charge of my life and that's my theme and my resolution for this New Year… to empower myself as much as possible. I know that's the key to feeling good. Thank you for everything."
–Teacher/writer, age 27, with a history of substance abuse and major depression

A study by SueAnne Piliero listed the following reactions about EDT:

I have such a great sense of accomplishment at having faced my feelings and owning them. I'm much more comfortable in my skin today."
–30-year-old graduate student

I feel that profound changes took place in therapy, have continued to take place, and will continue to take place."
–44-year-old mother/martial arts instructor

The moment of self awakening/awareness to the root of my difficulties was a 'life landmark.' I felt absolutely empowered, validated, liberated, joyful without fear or anxiety. The most significant emotion was feeling at peace….I hadn't felt this in over 40 years!"
–54-year-old librarian

I didn't know that I was living in fear of my own feelings. Becoming aware of this fear allowed me to overcome it, therefore I was able to experience all the other feelings/emotions. This experience freed me from an almost lifelong depression."
–35-year-old homemaker

Other therapies helped me to feel better at times, but this therapy gave me tools to enable me to live in a better way." My therapy experience was exemplary. I understood. I felt I was able to tolerate my feelings and understand their origin and how they affected my life. I genuinely changed with this therapy and therapist."
–56-year-old health care professional, after 8 years with no further treatment

I became clearer about what I was feeling and why. I 'came home' to myself and can relate out of a stronger sense of me."
–54-year-old food professional

I felt as though I was unlocked. There was hope for me. And that I could be received by another person."
–43-year-old physical therapist

It eliminated the need for medication. When symptoms arise, I can manage them myself. Also, awareness of feeling has increased my sense of freedom and self confidence."
–52-year-old business manager

After each of my sessions I would learn something new that seemed so central to my being and my problems that I would say, Wow! I can't believe no one has ever pointed this out to me before after all that therapy.'"
–35-year-old homemaker, who had seen more than 15 previous therapists

Overall, I feel proud of what I have accomplished. I feel secure within my own body and I have peace within my spirit. But I feel that I owe a great deal of what I have written here to my therapist. I once told her that it wasn't so much what she said, but the fact that she listened to my story and shared my pain. That helped to release my spirit."
— 34-year-old teacher


Learn more about ISTDP



Books on ISTDP

"The Lies We Tell Ourselves" – Jon Fredrickson

"Embrace your emoti



Why ISTDP works