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What is Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP)

Updated: Jul 25

Is ISTDP Right for ME?


Adversity, challenges, trauma, misfortune… whatever you call it, it hurts and can leave a lasting impact on our psyche.


Humans often navigate many difficulties in life. These events can cause an array of complex emotions, which can contribute to anxiety and emotional blockages. The feelings we experience can hinder our relationships, and cause various interpersonal difficulties causing us to produce defences to protect against being hurt. Our defences (often unconscious) are responses that can lead to negative health effects, mental and physical, that affect all systems of the body as the issues get stored in our tissues..

Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy, or ISTDP, is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on emotional processes rather than behaviour to get to the root of the issues quickly. It uses the somatic signals of the body to help identify where emotions get stuck, allowing for more personal awareness and change.

Goals of ISTDP


The goal of ISTDP treatment is to uncover and treat these blockages to achieve long-lasting, meaningful change in a shorter amounts of time. That is one of the greatest benefits of ISTDP is that it is faster and less expensive than most treatment options.


The immediate goal of ISTDP is to reduce distress and relieve symptoms, but it also works to disrupt unhealthy patterns of behaviour and work towards healthy coping skills, developing with you a more clear road map for change. With ISTDP you will be able to start to see your patterns of behaviour, regulate your anxieties and work towards change instead of avoiding negative feelings.


This intensive therapy can be effective for rapid relief of:

· Depression

· Anxiety

· Addiction

· Migraine headaches

· Nausea

· Pain/chronic pain

· Some forms of attention and memory difficulties

· Personality disorders

· Difficulties in interpersonal functioning

Treatment starts with a conversation between you, the therapist to help you both understand the process and to make sure it is right for you. An ISTDP therapist is highly trained to see you see your unconscious processes, to access your thoughts, feelings, behaviours through the dynamic relationship in the room intensifying the therapeutic work.


With an ISTDP therapist, the treatment focuses on you as an individual and is tailored to your internal needs. This means the therapist must examine anxiety tolerance and identify helpful and unhelpful patterns of coping with anxiety-provoking feelings. This can be uncomfortable and exhausting. Your clinician will work with you to prepare you for this intense experience. Before you can unblock, you must be able to know how to deal with your anxieties in order to safely experience emotions and treatment.


Nomina Integrated Health specializes in ISTDP. Give us a call if you are looking for a highly skilled ISTP therapist.


What is Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP)