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Diana Fosha Colloquium, October 8th, 2013

GSAPP’s October 2013 colloquium featured Diana Fosha, Ph.D., the developer of Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) and the director of the AEDP Institute. Dr. Fosha is currently on the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology at the medical centers of New York University and St. Luke’s/Roosevelt and a formal faculty member of the Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University. She lectures and provides workshops internationally on AEDP and has authored and coauthored numerous book on topics such as trauma, psychodynamic therapy, and the importance of affect. During her lecture at GSAPP, Dr. Fosha focused on the principles of AEDP and its clinical applications.

Fosha

Dr. Fosha originally developed AEDP in order to treat traumatic life events such as the sudden death of a loved one. However, her research soon suggested that AEDP could also be ameliorative for a wide variety of psychological problems. This unique therapeutic approach draws upon numerous psychological theories such as attachment theory, affective neuroscience, and body-centered therapy. A significant component to the therapy focuses on the “transformative power of affect” within the therapeutic setting. Dr. Fosha stressed the importance on the part of the therapist to actively track the patient’s moment-to-moment affective and somatic experiences. It is suggested that when done correctly, this tracking “activates the attachment system” which can provide a formidable force for motivation and change. Furthermore, Dr. Fosha explained the importance of first establishing a safe therapeutic environment with the patient, then proceeding with processing emotional experiences as they occur in therapy, affirm transformative affective experiences, and promote reflection and integration.

The second half of Dr. Fosha’s lecture focused on presenting clinical case material through a video recorded session with a patient. Dr. Fosha highlighted many important examples of AEDP principles being applied to the patient’s particular issues. For example, she noted how often she was “checking-in” with the patient regarding his affective and somatic reactions to what was being said in the therapy. Additionally, examples of meta-processing were also highlighted and elucidated.  A deep sense of connectedness and warmth permeated throughout the presented session with the patient expressing a sense of emotional relief towards the end. Dr. Fosha’s commentary and thoughtful discussions on her patient helped the audience to better understand AEDP and allowed us to observe what she refers to as “the transformative power of affect.”

By: Brendan Graziano