Attachment is not a weakness or a dependency, but is a biological and emotional necessity. It is a profound and recurring need to connect with someone who can provide the emotional containment that we cannot provide for ourselves. - Allan Schore
Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) has been gaining popularity in recent years, and for good reason. At its core, AEDP is a psychotherapeutic approach that emphasizes the importance of emotional connection and the healing power of relationships. It is a powerful approach that can help clients transform their lives and overcome a variety of mental health challenges.
Developed by Diana Fosha, this healing-oriented approach focuses on harnessing the transformative power of emotions to promote meaningful personal change. The goal of AEDP is to help clients access, process, and integrate emotions that have previously been suppressed or avoided due to difficult emotional and relational experiences. Rooted in attachment theory and neurobiological research, AEDP aims to facilitate deep processing and healing of past emotional injuries by forming a secure attachment relationship with the therapist.
"Undoing aloneness" is a fundamental principle of AEDP. It refers to the idea that those of us who struggle with mental health issues often feel isolated and disconnected from others. The therapeutic process begins with the investment in a strong, compassionate, genuine relationship, where the client begins to feel safe allowing themselves to be seen, understood and accompanied. This blossoming secure attachment bond is characterized by warmth, empathy, presence, acceptance, validation, appreciation and encouragement.
Another core tenet of AEDP is the belief that emotions are fundamental to healing and personal growth. Rather than seeking to control or diminish their client's feelings, AEDP therapists encourage clients to explore and express their emotions fully. An AEDP therapist works collaboratively with the client to identify patterns of emotional avoidance and resistance and to co-create a safe environment for emotion to be experienced in the here and now while in connection with a caring other.
AEDP aims to accelerate the process of emotional healing through a range of experiential techniques designed to help clients safely access and fully process their emotions. These techniques include mindfulness, visualization, somatic experiencing, parts work and other emotion-focused interventions.
In her book Undoing Aloneness and the Transformation of Suffering Into Flourishing: AEDP 2.0, Fosha outlines the three core elements of AEDP that make it so effective: dyadic affect regulation, transformational affects, and metaprocessing.
Dyadic affect regulation refers to the therapist's ability to co-regulate emotions with the client. By tuning in to the client's emotional experience and validating their feelings, the therapist can help them feel emotionally regulated and secure.
Transformational affects are glimmers of emotion that can provoke positive change in a person's life. Joy, love and gratitude are empowering, energizing experiences that fly in the face of shame and demoralization. AEDP therapists support clients in identifying and strengthening these flashes of transformational affect.
Metaprocessing refers to the client's ability to reflect on their present experience and integrate it into their sense of self. AEDP therapists encourage clients to reflect, make meaning from their emotional experiences and create new life narratives.
The AEDP approach has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health conditions, including attachment-related disorders, shame, anxiety, depression and trauma-related disorders. Research has demonstrated that AEDP can lead to significant and lasting improvements in emotional functioning, relationship satisfaction, and overall quality of life.
In summary, AEDP is a powerful therapeutic approach that emphasizes the transformative power of emotions and the importance of secure attachment relationships in promoting healing and growth. By focusing on emotional connection, providing clients with a range of experiential techniques, metaprocessing and expanding on transformational affect, AEDP therapists aim to promote rapid and lasting change in their clients' emotional and relational functioning.
If you're looking for a compassionate and effective approach to psychotherapy, AEDP may be the right choice for you.