Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy was developed by Diana Fosha PhD in New York. AEDP is based in attachment theory and current affective neuroscience, and some of the principals of Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy. AEDP combines elements of these fields in the clinical hour. Two attributes set AEDP apart: the first is the therapist’s loving attuned stance that helps the client feel her/his “self-at-best” and melts defenses. The second is the use of meta-processing, talking about what has occurred in the session.
In an AEDP session, the therapist first focuses on creating safety and security for the client with her authentic, warm and caring stance. The therapist attunes to, and tracks, the client’s moment-to-moment experiences of self and other, fosters full expression and release of emotions, and thereby provides a new experience. This new and different experience creates new neural firing and wiring in the brain, paving the way for new patterns of interaction and relationship, and fostering the client’s access to innate healing capacities. The session flows between experiences and reflection upon those experiences multiple times throughout the session to integrate cognitive processes with emotional ones.
Please read more about AEDP at the AEDP website and also the eloquent words of some of my AEDP colleagues, below.
(excerpted from http://www.aedpinstitute.org/aedp.html)
How AEDP Works — In As Few Words As Possible
We asked some of our faculty and practitioners to come up with a paragraph describing “How AEDP Works.” Taken together, these disparate paragraphs seem to kaleidoscopically have captured the essence of AEDP better than any elaborate discourse. (However, for those of you yearning for elaborate discourse, please go to “Articles on AEDP,” where you can feast on elaborate discourse, narrative, and then some…). We include them below in no particular order.
Eye contact and moment to moment tracking of emotion and body sensation activates the attachment system, a system with its origins based on survival and therefore with the force of considerable engagement and motivation. AEDP directs that motivation toward the recognition, elaboration and then, realization of the self at best. Today’s brain research supports the premise of AEDP, that a positive, responsive, safe relationship produces chemicals and hormones which enhance the development of higher brain function and the regulation of emotions and stress. The plasticity of the brain coupled with the power of a positive relationship are ideas supported with research that have tremendous implications which AEDP fully recognizes and applies to not only help but transform lives.
Colette Linnihan, New York City
|In AEDP reflexive defenses originating deep in the brain of the patient are brought to conscious awareness. Long-standing blocks and walls against felt experience soften into states of emotional flow that lead to relief and heightened clarity and freedom to initiate corrective action in the lived life of the patient. The AEDP therapist advocates and encourages the clear formation of the patient’s corrective impulses, often in the form of imagery of how to apply new behavior in the patient’s current life or in revisiting past situations of helpless aloneness, overt trauma or deprivation.|
|Like a volcano whose eruption creates new land in the ocean, the patient’s unconscious surprises and recognizes itself in AEDP, so the patient’s agency and inner authority take hold and gain freedom to live in new and remarkably stable and resilient ways.
David Mars, San Francisco
AEDP is a psychotherapeutic approach based on the idea that deep, viscerally felt affective experiences have the inherent capacity to rapidly and comprehensively transform people. Facilitated through a relationship with an actively engaged, emotionally attuned, empathic, affirming therapist, the patient is guided to process emotions deemed too overwhelming to face. Experientially processing these previously avoided emotions activates innate self-righting mechanisms, adaptive action tendencies and other resources that support psychological wellbeing and optimal functioning.
Jerry Lamagna, New York City
The most powerful tenets of AEDP are to establish safety and undo aloneness. From the first moments together the therapist and client are developing a relationship from which to explore unresolved and painful issues from the past and even more importantly to experience and process how they change and what comes from their new experiences.
Karen Pando Mars, San Francisc0
We all have strivings toward connection, understanding, growth and transformation. The more these yearnings are thwarted by deprivation, misattunement, trauma or loss, the more profound and painful the longings and needs can become. The AEDP therapist seeks to awaken and restore these basic human drives through becoming a safe, nurturing, and responsive “true other.” If a deep, caring and authentic relationship is the vehicle for change, then it is feelings and full emotional processing that fuel the process of transformation, delivering patient and therapist alike to a place of peace, inner wisdom, self-actualization, energy, mutual delight and fulfillment.
Kari Gleiser, Hanover, New Hampshire
AEDP works through safety and caring. The AEDP therapist creates safety through a warm and emotionally engaged relationship where the patient is valued and respected. Because the patient feels safe and cared for, his defenses against feelings aren’t needed as much as in other areas of his life, so the defenses “melt” away with the therapist’s help. As the defenses dissolve, the therapist helps the patient to manage the deep feelings that are then free to emerge. These feelings are ones that have almost always been too difficult, frightening, or painful for the patient to experience alone, so feeling them in the company of a caring other is new and freeing. Though painful, being met in the feelings is healing. When the full wave of emotion flows through, the patient feels lighter, grateful, transformed, changed for the better. The therapist then encourages the patient to reflect on the healing and transformational feelings, and this reflection generates deeper and deeper levels of healing and growth.
Candyce Ossefort-Russell, Austin, Texas
Most simply put, AEDP works through meeting and safely gratifying the patient’s deep longing to seen, heard and understood by the therapist and perhaps more importantly by him or herself. By the patient following emotions through to their completion, a deep sense of what is real and true directs the work during sessions. In an evolving dialectic process, the therapist and the patient jointly steer the vehicle of each session in a rising and deepening spiral of unfolding emotional awareness and integrity of speech. When the patient’s reality is held in such empathic and resonant attunement by the therapist, healing and forward momentum in treatment transcends ordinary expectations of what psychotherapy can be and do.
David Mars, San Francisco
Both psychotherapy and integrative framework, AEDP seeks to theoretically elucidate and clinically harness healing transformational processes. A whole-brain therapy, through its attachment-based stance, AEDP entrains right-brain-mediated affective experiences; works with subcortically generated primary emotions; and recruits left brain organization for the articulation of emotional experience. Then, alternating waves of experience and reflection give rise to the best the prefrontal cortex (especially the right pre-frontal cortex where emotionally meaningful autobiographical narratives are mediated) has to offer: integrative states of flow, clarity, ease, wisdom, compassion, curiosity, generosity, creativity, and calm, where the sense of the truth promotes deep acceptance and self-acceptance.
Diana Fosha, New York City
Ode To AEDP
- The AEDP therapist has faith in the humanity in relationship and offers safety and security unsparingly.
- The AEDP therapist participates actively to help a client face the distress that has initiated their healing journey.
- The AEDP therapist sees psychotherapy as a tremendous opportunity for growth and transformation and holds this perspective throughout the course of treatment.
- The AEDP therapist practices the art of guidance, recognizing when and how to assist the client be with their emotional life, and then, when to step out of the way and be present to witness the natural phenomena of cascading emotions and experiences.
- The AEDP therapist trusts the process and recognizes that helping clients face and move through painful experiences can bring them to new places that have the uncanny aspect of feeling true and more deeply real than anything previously imagined.
- The AEDP therapist revels in witnessing clients come to experience themselves freshly with calm knowing and recognition that this is the self they have always been.
- The AEDP therapist celebrates the mystery of human experience and the wonder of the transformational journey. This lives in their being and is part of the interpersonal matrix between client and therapist that supports and fosters healing and discovery.
Karen Pando-Mars, San Francisco
AEDP takes seriously and literally the plasticity and fluidity of the mind. Moment to moment the AEDP therapist notices, tracks and seizes upon areas of health and hope in the patient and sets about capitalizing upon them. This focus on the adaptive wired-in already present vitality of the patient leads to an organic resourcing of our patients from the very beginning of treatment.
From infant-mother research, AEDP takes the stance of a real, relating, caring other. A real person who responds authentically and honestly is inherently a secure base. From this place the AEDP therapist is always working with a dual attention: the relationship and the emotional experience of patient and therapist. This dual focus accelerates change.
The AEDP therapist has a protocol to follow and a phenomenology to anchor the work: the theoretical flowchart of AEDP tracks the patient from (i) anxiety and defense, to (ii) core affect, and then (iii) core state. As an emotion-based therapy the focus is always on helping the patient feel, and have the experience of feeling. Finally, metaprocessing teaches patients that there is value in talking about experience, that everything can be talked about, and that talking cements experience.
Natasha Prenn, New York City
A patient arrives for her appointment, angst-ridden, full of despair and diffuse pain. She is ashamed and feels weak for not being able to pick herself up by the bootstraps and cope. The AEDP therapist invites fuller disclosure of her feelings, emphasizing her perseverance and courage for sharing them. The patient looks up surprised, a new light in her eyes, as she holds the gaze of her therapist, drinking in permission, understanding, new self-perception. Then, as the therapist gently leads the dyad deeper into the pool of pain and grief and aloneness inside, always maintaining a shared, tolerable edge to the emotional experience, the patient sobs deeply. In the wake of this wave of emotion, they explore the patient’s sense of relief, self-compassion, lightness, gratitude. She leaves feeling transformed, freer, cared for and full of hope.
Kari Gleiser, Hanover, New Hampshire
AEDP (i) rests on a deep faith in clients’ innate capacities, hard-wired and always recoverable, to self-right and heal into their authentic True Self; (iii) privileges the power of new experiences of being seen and understood to heal the deepest injuries and create a new platform for exploration and change; (iv) lasers through defenses to the deepest levels of wounding where healing can be most catalytic to further change; (iv) evokes new trust in the power of experiencing any and every emotion, no matter how frightening, sharing, reflecting, processing, with a safe other to full and sweet self-acceptance and love.
Linda Graham, San Francisco
AEDP changes how our brains work. It is widely known that we all develop coping strategies and patterns from our early life experiences and relationships. Currently, the research in neuroscience shows how these patterns and reactions are wired in our brains and nervous systems. AEDP helps clients forge a safe and secure relationship with a therapist to strengthen and build their capacity to face the distress that has driven them to seek therapy. By learning new ways to process old feelings and emotions, AEDP literally changes neural pathways in the brain. This enables clients to process incoming information differently. What previously may have triggered a defensive reaction, can be recognized for what it is and thus responded to directly after AEDP. When change is experienced so viscerally, clients truly come to new places of self understanding, acceptance, and confidence from which they can engage more fully with life.
Karen Pando-Mars, San Francisco