Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy

Based on the principles founded in psychodynamic theory, Habib Davanloo developed Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP). It strives to attain permanent character transformation in shorter time periods by using intense and focused therapeutic techniques. Habib Davanloo, who developed this model, first realized that a client could experience swift character change by releasing all inhibitions relating to their emotional experiences. By transferring resistance, this method of therapy enlists the client’s unconscious efforts for therapeutic progress. The client willingly divulges the source of his or her character issues.

What Kind of Issues is ISTDP Best For?

Clients who seek this form of therapy do so out of the need to regain the functionality and productivity of their lives. Oftentimes clients will be overwhelmed with psychological symptoms from depression and anxiety while at the same time experiencing physical manifestations of the internal wounds. The ISTDP theory suggests these manifestations are the result of traumas, memories, and emotions that are too vivid and painful to emerge on a conscious level.

Goal of ISTDP

The primary goal of ISTDP is to enable the patient to overcome his or her own internal struggle with his or her own feelings and emotions about past and present experiences that overwhelm him or her due to their frightening, threatening, or painful nature. This form of therapy is categorized as intensive therapy in that it addresses these hidden emotions and exposes the client to them to the fullest extent in the shortest time possible. This therapy is seen as dynamic because it employs the unconscious as an ally in the internal struggle and the transference of emotional conflict and upheaval.

Effectiveness of ISTDP

This method has been studied for more than three decades and shows significantly swift and powerful results. ISTDP affects change in minimal time and with minimal cost and thus is recognized as a viable treatment option for a broad spectrum of clients. By removing obstacles that block the unconscious emotions, the healing can begin and transformation can rapidly be seen in the character of the client.

Resources Related to Intensive Short-Therapy Dynamic Psychotherapy:

Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention


Washington School of Psychiatry

Wikipedia's Page about Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy


Last updated: 10-20-2015

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