Understanding the similarities and differences between psychotherapy approaches can be challenging.
The first is a Psychodynamic approach, which, in contemporary treatment, involves an active and engaged therapist working with clients on overcoming the negative effects of anxiety provoking emotions about life events to allow healthy emotional connections. The second is Cognitive-Behavioral, which involves a more structured and directive approach, using worksheets and homework, to identify and change thought patterns and problematic behaviors. Individuals can benefit from both approaches and sometimes a combination of both can be helpful.
At Dynamic Health we offer specialist psychotherapy, in that the treatment process is tailored to each individual’s specific needs. We utilise a specific psychodynamic approach known as Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP). Find out more about ISTDP and how it could help you.
What is ISTDP?
In a longer first meeting (typically 2 hours), ISTDP therapists work together with clients to assess thoughts, feelings, behaviours and relationships, including: Focus on examining a client’s feelings triggered in their key relationships; examining anxiety tolerance for the triggered feelings; and identifying helpful and unhelpful patterns used for coping with anxiety provoking feelings. Where possible, clients are encouraged to experience feelings and where necessary they are helped to regulate anxiety related to these feelings. This is reviewed and a plan for tailoring treatment to their needs can be agreed-upon. Subsequent treatment sessions follow the same model of ongoing assessment and response to emotional processes.
HOw does it work?
Science tells us that a large part of our minds and decision making occurs without our awareness. ISTDP relies not only on what an individual tells us is important but also what their behaviour shows about non-conscious decision making. For this reason, when our thoughts or behaviours repeatedly interfere with more helpful ways of responding, it is important to pay attention to our non-conscious decision-making as well as the more deliberate choices we make.
While the immediate goal is to reduce distress and start to feel better, ISTDP offers the option for resolving non-conscious patterns to allow for rapid, meaningful and long-term changes. If anxiety tolerance of emotions is very low, an individual may first require therapy to first help them regulate anxiety before the emotions can be experienced.
Is it evidence-based?
In addition to showing that clients who receive ISTDP on average show large and clinically significant changes, research into ‘how therapy works’, indicates that the focus on experiencing emotion in ISTDP is central to good outcomes.