Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy | 2018 | Dr. Allan Abbass

The traditional separation of mind and body is dissolved by @ISTDP, departing from traditional western medicine.

Dr. Abbass, the head of Dalhousie University’s Centre for Emotions and Health, treats patients with these unexplained medical symptoms, a phenomenon also known as somatoform disorder, with an innovative form of talk therapy that’s producing impressive results. Called Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy, or ISTDP, the psychological approach deals with unconscious negative emotions – often guilt or anger linked to an emotional trauma suffered years or decades earlier – which have manifested as a physical symptom.  [….]

Dr. Abbass’s work could help countless people. But more broadly, it challenges the way society – and the medical system – have traditionally separated physical symptoms from mental illness and emotions, dividing what the body feels from what the mind thinks. So stomach pain gets treated in one building, and anxiety in another, and surgeons don’t regularly consult with psychiatrists. [….]

The therapy is based on the idea that repressed negative emotions can emerge as physical symptoms, and that triggering, or releasing, those emotions can relieve them. Where cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), for instance, focuses on changing thought patterns to alter behavior, ISTDP draws a client’s attention to their physical responses to address unresolved feelings such as anger or guilt.


“It’s not all in your head” (Their pain is real – and for patients with mystery illnesses, help is coming from an unexpected source) | Erin Anderssen | Dec. 8, 2018 | Globe & Mail at

Kim Hawes of Dartmouth, N.S.
For more than a decade,  suffered from chemical sensitivity, agoraphobia, anxiety and depression, and no doctor could tell her why. Her condition resolved and she was able to return to work after undergoing an innovative form of talk therapy with psychiatrist Allan Abbass, whose methods suggest that unexplained physical symptoms can be caused by unresolved emotional trauma.


#istdp, #mind-body, #psychotherapy