White Branch

AEDP Individual Psychotherapy

AEDP, Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy, is an approach to psychotherapy and a theory of healing developed by Diana Fosha.  AEDP is grounded in the cutting edge research of relational neuroscience, developmental attachment research, emotion research and transformational studies. As a new theory and model of treatment, that keeps pace with advancements in neuroscience and psychotherapy research,  AEDP is continuously refined and updated.  

What is Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy:

Accelerated: AEDP therapists are trained to track the emotional and somatic shifts that signal a change process is underway. By attending to and magnifying these markers of change, we are able to accelerate a healing process. 


Experiential: Research from neuroscientists (i.e.Jaak Panksepp, Daniel Siegal) informs us that emotions and emotional memories are somatic experiences, before they become interpreted by our minds. When we are taught to avoid certain emotions, we also disconnect from our bodily experiences.  We may distort or disconnect from our emotional lives, and feel ourselves as fragmented.  To restore our integrated sense of self,  we must release the  natural recursive flow of information within our body-emotion-thought/thought-emotion-body.  The recovery our natural integrated Self can only  happened in the context of secure therapeutic relationship that is actively protecting the client from becoming overwhelmed by new emotional experiences.  Therefore, I  will ask questions such as, "where do you feel that in your body," or, for some who cannot feel 'in their bodies, "If, you had to feel that in your body, where might you feel that, what do you imagine it might feel like?" "how are you experiencing this feeling? is it too much? "


Dynamic: Psychodynamic processes refer to the complex mechanisms humans develop to navigate internal conflicts, painful emotional states of mind such as, shame and dissociation, and the ways in which these mechanisms affect how we experience our interactions with others. Unlike traditional psychodynamic psychotherapy, AEDP does not believe that healing happens as a result of interpreting the mechanisms or facilitating a client's insight into these mechanisms.  AEDP believes that underlying these mechanisms are core emotions and a resilient core self that will emerge to the light of day when it recognizes it is safe within oneself, and within the therapeutic relationship.  AEDP believes that experiencing core emotions and core self within the a secure relationship will provide a "corrective emotional experience." New and healthy experiences literally re-wire the brain. Neuroscience refers to this process as "neuroplasticity." 


Psychotherapy: AEDP  is a psychotherapy that applies the findings from psychotherapy empirical research that studies what makes psychotherapy effective.  The quality of a therapeutic relationship is found to be among the most robust factors influencing a positive outcome. AEDP therapists utilize findings from attachment research and affective-relational neuroscience, to refine ways to improve client security within the relationship. For example: we attend to, and explicitly track, the normal relational rhythm of attunement-disruption-repair, alongside the emotional processing that is taking place. The moments of mis-attunement (or mis-understanding) that are noticed and repaired.  We call this tracking and processing of the attunement-disruption-repair cycle (or, in the words of  Daniel Stern, "the relational dance") "meta-therapeutic processing."  For example, I frequently check-in with questions such as, "what was it like to hear that from me?" "how are you experiencing what is happening right now?" "I noticed you shut down, what just happened?" AEDP therapists are very careful to keep the experience of the relationship authentic and at the center of awareness.  Unlike traditional psychodynamic therapies that wish to amplify the transference (a form of  projection onto the therapist can reveal hidden psychic conflicts to be interpreted) as a key method in understanding unconscious processes, AEDP therapists attempt to limit transference processes, and to continuously calibrate interventions in order to maintain an authentic therapeutic relationship. 

AEDP's foundational ethos:

AEDP is non-pathologizing, with a commitment to recognizing and building upon the natural healing capacities, and resiliency our clients. AEDP therapists believe that the symptoms and sufferings that bring you to psychotherapy are born of resourceful capacities to cope with unbearable emotions. For this reason, I no longer use the identifier, "patient", rather you are my client. AEDP therapy is a collaborative process; that is,  we work together toward self-righting so that painful and debilitating symptoms and patterns are no longer required to ensure emotional safety.

AEDP is healing oriented: We assume that healing/ self-righting is an innate drive that will recognize and respond to a healing environment.  We assume that our natural state is one of well-being, and that well-being resides within all of us, unharmed by life's trauma's. In fact, symptoms are born from creative mental strategies, sometimes gone awry, to protect this core well-being from harm.

AEDP privileges positive emotions: Psychotherapy research informs us that positive emotions especially, as they are experienced alongside the processing of painful emotions, will most effectively diminish the impact  traumatic experiences. Positive emotions need special focus and enhancement because, for many, it is surprisingly difficult to maintain positive emotional states. This is because our brains are designed to focus more intently on negative emotions and events.  For survival reasons, this  makes sense, our ancestors  have needed to remember that 'one bad berry', among the many healthy berries. And, some of us are tempermentally inclined to be the 'bad berry detectors' for our clan.   Diana Fosha refers to the use of positive emotions to update our ancestoral brains, as "reversing the evolutionary tilt."  An AEDP psychotherapist will hone in on a positive emotional experience with questions such as, "would it be ok if we stayed with what is happening right now a bit longer? I want you to memorize this good feeling."  

Reading Suggestions:

Free and readable articles about AEDP on the AEDP website: www.aedpinstitute.com

Hendel, H.J. (2018). It's Not Always Depression:

Fosha, D. (2001). The Transforming Power of Affect: A Model For Accelerated Change

Frederick, R. (2009). Living Like You Mean It 

Panksepp, J. (2012). The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions

Russell, E. (2015). Restoring Resilience: Discovering Your Clients Capacity for Healing

Siegal, D. (2009). The Mindful Brain

Stern, D. (2000). The Interpersonal World of the Infant


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©2020 Carrie Ruggieri, LMHC, BCETS

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