What is AEDP?


Although I have stated that I do draw on 6-7 different approaches in my work, I identify my fundamental approach as this thing called AEDP. Being an integrative approach is organizes many different approaches and techniques into a whole.

But what is that acronym and this strange, sort of convoluted name for a therapy? You may ask…

It is first and foremost about change and transformation than anything else. It is a way of moving from stuckness, stagnation, and psychopathology to change, movement, resilience in the face of traumas and past limitations.

AEDP stands for: Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy.

Accelerated means emphasizing discontinuous change over long continuous change. Think of a line moving upwards in a series of large steps. Or a fractal pattern of a shell with many compartments that exponentially get larger and larger.

Most change approaches, whether psychotherapeutic, meditative or other, emphasize slow and continuous change. Where a person only knows they have changed after reflecting back on a period of long work.

This approach boldly focused on new experience and leveraging new, positive, and unexpected change, all felt in the body to deeper and deeper levels to create rapid shifts. Although nothing is guaranteed with any therapist or approach, when AEDP works, the client knows for a fact, at that crucial moment that change is occurring and can occur.

This would ideally occur in small or large ways every session but everyone has different degrees of stuckness and some clients take much more time to get the pieces in place so that great change can happen.

Experiential means the therapist works in the moment with direct, felt, embodied experience and action. Rather than talk therapy. Talk is of course occurring, but change does not occur unless the problems and issues are brought into the here and now in an embodied manner.

AEDP and my approach within this model draws from Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy, parts work such as approaches like Internal Family Systems, and Gestalt Therapy. Each approach is a different take on the same thing: “the there and then is taken into the here and now.”

It’s easy to talk about an issue or problem but to feel how it is held in the body, dialogue with important figures in one’s past or present, work with the body and actions that have been held and stopped, and so on lead to the direct experience of embodied change. Change isn’t a nice thought, it is an experience.

Dynamic refers to the relational aspect to this work of change. This is harking to the Psychodynamic approach that evolved from but way beyond Freud’s original form of psychotherapy.

Diana Fosha, PhD takes this psychodynamic relational work to a different level. To a completely different style that is in many ways at odds with traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy. The relational work emphasizes rapport and a highly affirming stance from the therapist almost immediately.

Traditional psychodynamic and humanistic approaches to the therapeutic relationship take a long time and can be very indirect.

Our approach is a highly involved and active stance from the therapist. We work to make what is unstated in the relationship explicit, or stated. Of course, in a disarming and tactful manner.

A client will also notice a therapist using this approach to be highly attuned to them on a moment by moment basis. Drawing the client deeper and deeper into the here and now moment with the therapist. As much as they can handle at the time of course.

We also work to be highly sensitive to where the client is at and what it provoking too much anxiety or negative experience and can change our approach and/or back off at a moment’s notice to re-establish safety.

Furthermore, relational work goes deeper into a client’s relationship with themselves and their inner “parts” or sides of themselves. Also called “ego-states.”

To conclude: I identify and train as an AEDP oriented psychotherapist because this approach emphasizes change and human transformation significantly more than anything else I have come across, having studied dozens of approaches in graduate school. It is very precise in it’s moment by moment tracking and exactfulness but is flexible enough to throw a linear approach out at any time to become organic and non-linear.
Most importantly, I find it to be one of the most palatable approaches for both therapist and client. It just feels good to practice and experience!

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