ACCELERATED EXPERIENTIAL DYNAMIC PSYCHOTHERAPY (AEDP)
Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy
from the AEDP website = http://aedpinstitute.com/
The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
There is no better way to capture the ethos of AEDP than to say that we try to help our patients—and ourselves—become stronger at the broken places. Working with trauma, loss, and the painful consequences of the limitations of human relatedness, we are surprised to discover places that have always been strong and were never broken: steeled for the worst, we encounter the best. Crisis and suffering can be opportunity: they sometimes awaken extraordinary capacities that otherwise would lie dormant, unknown and untapped, and that, without them, would never see the light of day. AEDP is about making the most of that opportunity.
AEDPis a transformation-based, healing-oriented model of therapy. Developed by Dr. Diana Fosha, author of The Transforming Power of Affect, it has roots in and resonances with many disciplines (see Mission Statement), amongst them attachment theory, affective neuroscience, body-focused approaches, and transformational studies.
In AEDP, we foster the emergence of new and healing experiences through the in-depth processing of difficult emotional and relational experiences. Key to this experiential enterprise is the establishment of the therapeutic relationship as secure base, which we seek to do from the get-go.
Existing in Each Other's Hearts and Minds:
A Spirit and a Set of Values
A spirit and a set of values informs all the endeavors and activities—clinical, intellectual, and community-building—that constitute AEDP, and form the mission of the AEDP Institute. I would like to share those with you.
We are committed and devoted to foster and promote:
a healing and growth orientation;
openness of heart;
openness of mind;
rigor guided by phenomenological precision;
safety and (informed) therapist risk-taking
We proceed from a belief in the value of openness to divergence and commitment to exploration. We grow --in our selves, in our practice, in our theory, in our community-- through staying open to and being challenged by new ways of thinking and working, through staying open to and being challenged by each other. Reveling in our resonances and embracing our differences -- this is how we foster the emergence of phenomena which are the stuff of professional, personal, and organizational growth.
Transformance: The Motive Force of AEDP
Transformance is a fundamental concept that I introduced and developed in 2008 in a paper, called "Transformance, recognition of self by self, and effective action" (Fosha, 2008). It is at the core of what AEDP is all about. It refers to the need that we all have to grow, to heal, and to transform into becoming who we know ourselves to be.
We all have a fundamental need for transformation. We are wired for growth and healing. And we are wired for self-righting, and resuming impeded growth. We have a need for the expansion and liberation of the self, the letting down of defensive barriers, and the dismantling of the false self. We are shaped by a deep desire to be known, seen, and recognized as we strive to come into contact with parts of ourselves that are frozen.
Transformance is my term for the overarching motivational force, operating both in development and therapy, that strives toward maximal vitality, authenticity, and genuine contact. Transformance drives change processes that, in the right environment, eventuate in healing and thriving. A felt sense of vitality and energy characterizes transformance-based emergent phenomena.
The AEDP Institute
Through its activities—live, published, and online—the AEDP Institute is devoted to providing a forum for an emergent community of clinicians. We seek to co-create environments—clinical, intellectual, collegial—of shared values. We are aiming to create a community of safety and security, from which boundless exploration can take place.
It is important to us to facilitate training atmospheres where clinicians can share clinical material from a position of openness. We seek to have a shared experiential data base, as well as a shared intellectual/theoretical base. The AEDP Institute aims to create forum in which we can share ideas, ask questions, learn from one another, raise issues, share therapy experiences, and integrate new ideas into an ever-evolving, emergent model of thinking and clinical practice.
The ethos is to exist in each other’s hearts and minds. Which is how AEDP grows and stays healthy and vibrant.
As the network of AEDP practitioners, teachers, and supervisors is growing nationally and worldwide, the AEDP Institute is committed to promoting ongoing communications between AEDP and other therapeutic approaches and disciplines, and to having AEDP be an active participant the exciting emergent developments that are transforming how we understand ourselves and each other, and how we practice.
AEDP Clinical Values:
Healing Affects & Healing Interactions
AEDP: An Ever-Emergent Model
In An Ever-Emergent Dialogue
As an integrative framework, AEDP shares various basic assumptions and deep resonances with neighboring disciplines and the bodies of work of many different authors. Below are some of the approaches and the theoreticians/ researchers/ clinicians that AEDP is in I-Thou dialogue with:
Emotion theory (e.g., Charles Darwin, William James, Sylvan Tomkins, Antonio Damasio);
Affective neuroscience (e.g., Antonio Damasio, Richard Davidson, Jaak Panksepp, Steven Porges, Daniel Siegel, Allan Schore);
Attachment theory (e.g., John Bowlby, Mary Main, Peter Fonagy, Jude Cassidy, Karlen Lyons-Ruth)
Developmental studies of dyadic interaction (e.g., Beatrice Beebe, Robert Emde, Daniel Stern, Ed Tronick, Colwyn Trevarthen);
Trauma studies (e.g., Richard Schwartz, Francine Shapiro, Bessel van der Kolk;)
Body-focused treatments (e.g., Peter Levine, Pat Ogden, Ron Kurtz)
Other experiential therapies (Eugene Gendlin, Les Greenberg, Fritz Perls);
Other attachment- and emotion-focused therapies (e.g., Daniel Hughes, Susan Johnson);
Existential integrative therapies (Abraham Maslow, Rollo May, Kirk Schneider)
Relational and developmentally informed analytic traditions, especially those with either a trauma and/or a transformation focus (e.g., Philip Bromberg, Michael Eigen, Sandor Ferenzci, Emanuel Ghent, James Grotstein, Ian Suttie, D. W. Winnicott),
Short-term dynamic therapies (e.g., Habib Davanloo, Leigh McCullough, Ferruccio Osimo);
and, last but not least,
Transformational studies, broadly defined to include different traditions of wisdom, east and west, (e.g., Martin Buber, William James, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Michael Mahoney, Miller & C’ de Baca, Ethel Person)
Finally, On A Personal Note
Being able to share my life’s work and ideas through writings and presentations, and having them met by you, colleagues, senior and junior, with resonance, responsiveness, interest, enthusiasm and excitement is an honor, a joy and a privilege beyond words.
With appreciation for what has been, and joyful anticipation of what is to come,
Here we go
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.
AEDP works by harnessing and catalyzing a psychobiological state transformation through activating the extraordinary innate healing capacities, hard wired in the mind and the body. It is mediated by the self-righting tendencies and self-integrating abilities of viscerally felt emotional experience, dyadically regulated, expressed and coordinated with the engaged presence of a cherishing therapist.
Danny Yeung, Toronto
AEDP is about working with the heart. Amazing things happen when both therapist and client tune into their hearts: people feel strengthened, they discover potentials and capacities for healing, growth and transformation that they never thought possible.
Diana Wais, London
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
Corrective Emotional Experience (how's that for less?)
Steve Shapiro, Malverne, Pennsylvania
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 Francisco
In AEDP, we firmly believe that our patients have the potential to make something constructive and meaningful with their life. For that, we hold their hands and stand by them as long as they - with our very active help - keep on working on developing their trust and their curiosity to look inside their souls and find out what is their deepest yearning at that particular stage of their lives.
Andrea Junqueira, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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
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
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
AEDP works through creating a container of emotional and psychic safety that invites and even provokes a deep experience of being connected to ones self and the self of another. The therapist in the practice of AEDP engages an authenticity and vividness of self-expression that invokes a field of safety and interest, which in turn invites and ushers in experiences of heightened emotional presence within the patient. The patient’s deepened emotional experience and expression, then brings in turn, a heightened permeability and awareness within the therapist. What had been held off in the distance within the patient becomes vitally experience-near in each evolving moment to both the therapist and the patient.
David Mars, 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
(back to therapy)