Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)

Developed by Dr. Diana Fosha, author of the The Transforming Power of Affect, AEDP has roots in and resonances with many disciplines -- among them attachment theory, affective neuroscience, body-focused approaches and transformational studies.

There is no better way to capture the ethos of AEDP than to say this: we try to help our patients—and ourselves—become stronger at the broken places. By working with trauma, loss, and the painful consequences of the limitations of human relatedness, we discover places that have always been strong, places that were never broken.

Crisis and suffering provide opportunities to awaken extraordinary capacities that otherwise might lie dormant, unknown and untapped. AEDP, as a therapeutic approach, is about making the most of these opportunities for healing and transformation. Key to this experiential enterprise is the establishment of the therapeutic relationship as safe, secure base.

Through the in-depth processing of difficult emotional and relational experiences, the AEDP clinician fosters the emergence of new and healing experiences for the client. Read more about how AEDP works.

AEDP is Healing-Oriented (Not Psychopathology-Based)

Shaped by a deep desire to be seen, known, and recognized by others, all human beings share a fundamental human need to connect. When we feel safe, we let down defensive barriers and when those barriers are down, our innate ability to grow and expand also helps us heal.

Meaningful change involves the activation of naturally occurring, affective change processes. The aim of AEDP is to release these innate healing tendencies, to follow the positive markers that identify naturally occurring adaptive changes and to harness their potential for healing, all in the context of the therapeutic relationship.

What Is Transformance?

Transformance is AEDP’s term for the overarching motivational force that strives for maximum healing, vitality, authenticity and genuine connectedness in every human being. The concept was developed and introduced by AEDP Founder, Dr. Diana Fosha, in a groundbreaking paper in 2008. Download the PDF of this paper.

AEDP Therapists Create the Conditions Necessary for Transformance

The AEDP therapist facilitates and co-constructs a patient-therapist relationship characterized by secure attachment. Such a relationship is dyadic, explicitly empathic, affirming, affect-regulating, mutually enjoyable, and emotionally engaged.

AEDP Heals Unbearable Aloneness

Dyadic affect regulation is key to undoing unbearable aloneness. The therapeutic relationship provides the secure base from which fear, shame, and distress can be shared, and therefore dyadically regulated and where the explorations of deep, painful emotional experiences can be risked.

A fundamental tenet of AEDP is
that the patient is never alone
with overwhelming emotional experiences.
—Diana Fosha

AEDP therapy provides opportunities for new corrective emotional experiences. This experiential method involves facilitating the patient’s having an experience in which the body must be involved through tracking moment-to-moment fluctuations in the emotional experience of patient, therapist, and dyad.

AEDP Builds on Transformation and Positive Core Affects

The visceral experience of core affects in the here-and-now of the patient-therapist relationship is the central agent of change in AEDP. Core affects are wired-in adaptive experiences. When activated, tracked moment-to-moment and worked through to completion, they access inner resources and activate healing resilience. The experience of transformation of self—particularly in the context of a healing relationship—informs the affective change process.

The Experience of Change for the Better Feels Good

Positive, resonant, attuned, dyadic interactions have been shown to be the constituents of healthy, secure attachments and they correlate with neurochemical environments conducive to optimal brain growth. Positive core affects and interactions are both the constituents and hard-wired markers of healing. AEDP is guided by these moment-to-moment signals and markers and facilitating their occurrence is its aim.

Metaprocessing is Central to AEDP

Focusing on the experience of change is transforming in and of itself. Affirming and exploring these changes releases a cascade of transformations with characteristic somatic affective markers which are invariably positive.

AEDP: An Emergent Model in Ongoing Dialogue

As an integrative framework, AEDP shares various basic assumptions and deep resonances with neighboring disciplines and the bodies of work of many different authors. These are some of the approaches that AEDP dialogues with

  • Emotion theory
  • Affective neuroscience
  • Attachment theory
  • Developmental studies of dyadic interaction
  • Trauma studies
  • Body-focused treatments
  • Other experiential therapies
  • Other attachment- and emotion-focused therapies
  • Existential integrative therapies
  • Relational and developmentally informed analytic traditions, especially those with either a trauma and/or a transformation focus
  • Short-term dynamic therapies
  • Transformational studies, broadly defined to include different traditions of wisdom, east and west

Interested in AEDP in French? Download pdf: Découvrez la psychothérapie AEDP en français