What is ISTDP?

Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) is the name given to the technique originated by Dr. Habib Davanloo of McGill University, Montreal, Canada.

Dr. Davanloo created a large case study series in the 1960’s and 70’s and presented his structured technique across Canada, the US, and Europe.  International training centers have developed over the years.  Some follow Davanloo’s technique precisely while others have furthered his work and/or built derivations of it.

Dr. Davanloo is the author of many books and journal articles. He hosted and lectured at his ISTDP Congress each October in Montreal until 2017.

What is ISTDP?

ISTDP is a precise, emotion-focused, approach based on psychodynamic theory with techniques designed to clarify and intensify the therapeutic process so that long-term structural changes can be accomplished in briefer periods than with traditional psychodynamic therapy.

There are several good papers and books which provide an introduction and description of ISTDP.  Here are a few of our favorites:

Jon Fredrickson and the ISTDP Institute

Southern California Society for ISTDP

Wikipedia article on ISTDP


ISTDP has been (and continues to be) studied and researched for its effectiveness, long-term outcomes, and cost-saving benefits. And the research is extremely positive!

Dr. Allan Abbass, Director of the Centre for Emotions and Health at Dalhousie University (Halifax NS) has over 17 published studies on the effectiveness of ISTDP and financial cost-savings of ISTDP to the Canadian medical system.


The International Experiential Dynamic Therapy Association (IEDTA) is an international organization of psychotherapists who practice Experiential Dynamic Therapies (EDT).  Well known forms of EDT are:

  • Intensive Short Term Dynamic Therapy (ISTDP)

  • Accelerated Empathetic Therapy (AET)

  • Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)

  • Affect Phobia Therapy (APT)

  • Attachment-Based ISTDP

  • Dynamic Emotional Focused Therapy (DEFT)

  • Intensive Accelerated Experiential -Dynamic

  • Psychotherapy (IEDP)

  • Unified Model of Personality Guided Relational Therapy

Experiential Dynamic Therapies include various psychotherapeutic approaches which share the common features of being psychodynamic in orientation and emphasizing the promotion of healthy emotional experience to foster rapid, deep and lasting therapeutic change.

The IEDTA List Serve is a great way for professionals to connect with other professionals in the field of Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy. Health professionals—licensed or in training to become licensed—can join the IEDTA’S “EDT-List” email list (or “listserv”), which is devoted to discussions about clinical and theoretical issues relevant to EDT, as well as IEDTA organizational matters.

The Ad Hoc Bulletin of Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy: Practice and Theory appears 2 to 3 times a year.   The Ad Hoc contains articles including transcripts of parts of sessions with particular clients to illustrate the therapy process, as well as reviews of conferences, publications and book reviews, in English, in the area of ISTDP.

The Ad Hoc Bulletin is published by the Dutch Association for STDP (VKDP) in co-operation with the Netherlands Foundation for Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy – Amsterdam

Started in 2002, it is currently the only published journal devoted to Experiential Dynamic Therapy (EDT).  Editors in chief are Dr. Josette ten Have-de Labije, PsyD, Berlin Germany and Dr. Kees L.M.Cornelissen, SocD. Antwerp Belgium; Guest editors are Dr. RJ Neborsky, MD, Del Mar, CA, USA and Dr. MJ Stein, Clin Psych, United Kingdom.  For a chronological list of articles published in the Ad Hoc, click here.  For Subscriptions, please contact:  Josette ten Have-de Labije, PsyD at havelaby@t-online.de or Robert J. Neborsky, M.D. at istdp@aol.com