Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy for Severe Mental Disorders: State of Evidence and Video Illustration

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Presenting Author(s): Dr. Allan Abbass, MD, FRCPC, BSc

Date and time: 22 Mar 2019 from 09:00 to 10:00

Location: Bluebell  Floor Map


  1. Describe the state of evidence for Short-term Psychodynamic Psychotherapies;
  2. Describe a method of assessing anxiety tolerance in patients with severe mental disorders; and
  3. Name 3 discharge pathways of unconscious anxiety seen in patients with severe mental disorders.

Literature References

  1. Abbass A (2015) Reaching through Resistance: Advanced Psychotherapy Techniques, Seven Leaves Press, Kansas, USA
  2. Town JM, Abbass A, Stride C, Bernier D (2017). A randomised controlled trial of Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy for
    treatment resistant depression: the Halifax Depression Study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 214,15-25.
  3. Abbass A, Bernier D, Kisely S, Town J, Johansson R (2015). Sustained reduction in health care costs after adjunctive treatment using
    the graded intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy in patients with psychotic disorders. Psychiatry Research, 228(3), 538-43.
  4. Abbass A (2017). The Emergence of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy for Treatment Resistant Patients: Intensive Short-Term Dynamic
    Psychotherapy. Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 44(2), 245-80.


Intensive Short-term Dynamic Psychotherapy is a Canadian made-and-researched form of brief therapy that is taught practiced around
the world. It has built-in methods to bolster patient’s capacity to tolerate anxiety and emotions as well as methods to help a person
override habitual avoidant and relationship defeating behaviors. It has been studied now with over 40 randomized controlled trials
including more recently one of treatment resistant depression where sustained remission rates rival any in the published literature.
Because it has supportive elements to bolster a patient it can also be effectively applied as an adjunct to care in patients with psychosis
and bipolar disorder. According to two recent studies the approach can bring symptomatic relief but also long-term reduction in
healthcare use and costs. The evidence-base and a few brief video vignettes will be used to illustrate this approach and it’s benefits.

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