What is AEDP?

AEDP is a psychotherapy model developed in the USA by Diana Fosha PhD

“In AEDP, we seek to be with the people we work with, and accompany them, in their processing of both negative and positive emotions: both traumatic experiences that need to be healed, and transformative experiences, which also need processing and accompaniment. We seek to accompany our patients on their emotion processing journeys, be those journeys of processing the difficult and feared-to-be-unbearable or the transformative, joyful and awe-some.”

What does that all mean?


The A in AEDP is for Accelerated. This doesn’t mean therapy is rushed, but it does mean that we can get to the heart of things very quickly. AEDP can bring about deep, meaningful change from the first moments of the first session. I will gently guide you away from waffle, defence and distraction (we can all be guilty of that!) towards core feelings and your openhearted authentic self. Accelerated also means that AEDP is a very effective short-term therapy— in fact, new research from an AEDP research study has proven it to be a successful therapy for many psychological problems, including anxiety and depression, with positive outcomes in around 16 sessions.


The E is for Experiential. It is not enough to ‘just talk’ in therapy. Our brains are important, but we experience life in our bodies. In AEDP therapy I track very closely how your body talks back. I might ask questions like, ‘how does that feel on the inside?’ Or ‘where are you feeling that right now?’. And experiential doesn’t just mean body focused. Some folks find it a challenge to tune in to physical sensation so we might get experiential in other ways, for example, you might be more of an imagery person, or you may find art or music a ‘way in’. Experiential also means present focused. We might be talking about something that has happened in the past, but even so, my focus will be on how it feels to be talking about it together in the present.

The E in AEDP also reminds us that it is an emotion-focused approach. Many of us find our way to therapy because we are struggling with our emotions. We might find ourselves feeling too much— or too little. In our culture emotions tend to get a bad rap but they are vitally important. They have been wired-in to our brains for our survival and processing them safely and tolerably with a therapist brings about profound transformation and healing. We will learn how to do this together and I will show you tools to do it for yourself outside of therapy.


The D is for [psycho]dynamic. Psychodynamic psychotherapy holds that our early family relationships can have a lasting impact, particularly when things go wrong. This might be active harm, like emotional, physical or sexual abuse. It can also refer to not getting our emotional needs met, being criticised, unvalidated or feeling unseen. We develop ways to protect ourselves from these wounds— coping strategies— which are vitally important for our survival but can impede us when as adults we want to connect intimately with others (or ourselves). In dynamic psychotherapy we explore and untangle some of those threads, making sense of the past (but always with a foot firmly in the present).


Finally, the P is Psychotherapy. A healing relationship between two humans. AEDP therapists champion their clients, standing firmly in their corner. We are actively caring and supportive— with a sprinkling of healthy challenge and accountability. Research has shown that the therapeutic relationship is an important predictor of a successful therapy. In therapy we will pay close attention to how it’s going between us. I might ask questions like, ‘how are we doing right now?’, or ‘do you feel I am understanding you?’. You should feel that we have a safe and trusting relationship that can also be playful and collaborative. You will be explicitly invited to let me know if I have got something wrong. Rupture happens in all relationships and being able to work though it and repair is an important relational tool.

The P might also refer to the Positive. In AEDP we talk about Transformance. Transformance is the innate healing capacity we each have within us. In therapy we look out for ‘glimmers’ of positive shifts, capacities, strengths and resources, and we focus on them in order to expand and delight in them.

If you’d like to learn more about AEDP or the healing power of emotions I highly recommend Hilary Jacobs Hendel’s accessible book It’s Not Always Depression.