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Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy (ISTDP) offers unique procedures for acceptance of emotion and may contribute to the process-based therapy movement (Pages 106-114)

Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS)

Volume 25, July 2022, Pages 106-114


Nathan C. Thoma, Allan Abbass


A variety of contemporary cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) frameworks have collectively converged on acceptance of emotion as a therapeutic process central to producing positive outcomes. However, evidence shows that not all patients respond to these treatments, such as those with more severe and complicated symptomatology and more entrenched emotion avoidance tendencies. Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy (ISTDP) is a specific, highly active, emotion-focused model of therapy grounded in empirical research that was designed to treat complex patients with entrenched emotion avoidance behaviors. This paper presents the clinical techniques of ISTDP to illustrate its methods of facilitating acceptance of emotion, which is likely unfamiliar to many CBT therapists. Leaders of the field in CBT have recently made calls for psychotherapy, including CBT, to move toward a focus on process-based therapy (PBT), which seeks to highlight and investigate promising change processes and their related change procedures, no matter their original therapeutic framework. In introducing ISTDP techniques to CBT and PBT researchers and therapists, we seek to stimulate awareness, curiosity, and further collaboration in the study and use of these techniques in the hopes that ISTDP may contribute to the PBT movement.

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