Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy, commonly known as AEDP, is a body-mind somatically connecting, emotionally focused, relationally attuned, neuroplasticity boosting, mindfully present, attachment healing, trauma repairing, resilience developing and celebrating, and personally nourishing and enlivening psychotherapy. It’s also the only psychotherapy rooted in transformational studies. Originally developed by Diana Fosha, AEDP fosters the emergence of new and healing experiences of oneself through in-depth processing of difficult emotional and relational experiences.
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.
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.
A Secure Base The AEDP therapist facilitates and co-constructs a patient-therapist relationship characterized by secure attachment, thereby providing a safe and secure base, and ultimately allowing the patient the experiences of being seen, recognized, and known by others. The AEDP therapeutic relationship is dyadic, explicitly empathic, affirming, affect-regulating, mutually enjoyable, and emotionally engaged. 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. Click here to view a pdf of this paper.
Accessing & Expressing Core Affect Core affects are wired-in adaptive experiences. 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. The visceral experience of core affects in the here-and-now of the patient-therapist relationship is the central agent of change in AEDP. When core affects are activated, tracked moment-to-moment and worked through to completion, they access inner resources and activate the patient’s innate 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.
*Content for this section was pulled from the AEDP Institute's website and regional chapter AEDP Southwest.
Here is a video overview of AEDP with the founder of the model, Diana Fosha.
You can also read more about how AEDP works on the Institute's website here.