ISTDP is a type of psychological therapy based on neuroscience, attachment and psychodynamic theory. It works from the theory that most psychological problems arise from attachment difficulties that were experienced during the formative years, and are maintained by an over reliance on defences* which are no longer adaptive.
ISTDP posits that being able to feel and express one’s emotions in adaptive ways is key in maintaining good mental health. And that defences such as blocking, numbing, suppressing or avoiding any aspect of our internal life can lead to distressing symptoms, impact upon physical and emotional health and affect relationships with others.
Defences can manifest in a number of ways such as depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviour, physical symptoms (without a medical explanation), overthinking, self-defeating behaviours, addictions, body image concerns and sexual difficulties.
*Defences are psychological, emotional and behavioural mechanisms that enable the avoidance of emotional pain stemming from earlier attachment relationships.
ISTDP is a highly focussed therapy where both client and therapist aim to work at their highest potential. ISTDP assesses the moment by moment interactions that occur during the session which lead to a feeling, anxiety or defence. The aim is to keep anxiety at a tolerable level, help one see and overcome destructive defences and face underlying feelings, thoughts and memories.
Unlike some other therapies, ISTDP does not focus on specific “skills” or “strategies.” Rather, the aim is for the client to develop a deep understanding of themself; of the things that have been holding them back and their thoughts, feelings, values and desires so that they can be aware of and go after their own needs in a balanced way.
Research has demonstrated that ISTDP is effective in treating a wide range of psychiatric and psychological difficulties such as anxiety, depression, trauma, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse as well as in treating medical conditions where no underlying physical cause has been established: “functional neurological disorders” (e.g., fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, migraine headaches).
The first session, often called a “trial therapy” is 1.5-2 hours long (double the length of a standard appointment). The extra time gives a chance for you to experience how I work, and if my approach is a good fit for you and if this type of therapy is indicated.
Follow up sessions are 50 minutes long and are typically scheduled on a weekly or fortnightly basis until treatment goals are reached.
For those who are unable to come on a weekly or fortnightly basis “block therapy” is available (pending therapist availability). In block therapy, treatment is provided in “blocks” where a number of extended sessions can occur on the same day or in the same week, before a break of several months. Block therapy is typically utilised by clients travelling long distances (e.g., interstate or overseas). Please note, under Medicare guidelines, you are only able to claim for one psychology consultation per day (up to a maximum of 20 sessions per calendar year). Thus, if you schedule in multiple therapy sessions in a day, you will only be able to receive a rebate for the first session.
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