Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)

What is Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP)?

Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) is a talk therapy modality. In AEDP, the therapist and client work together to process the client’s old experiences and lingering emotions, unearthing uncomfortable feelings and working towards emotional healing. AEDP works on the assumption that we are all capable of change and self-healing.

AEDP has no set length and is often combined with other forms of therapy, such as body-focused strategies, experiential therapies, emotion-based approaches, attachment therapies, and trauma-focused techniques. The goal of AEDP is to help the client discover that they have always had the tools they need to create their own emotional change, regardless of the struggles they have been through.


How does AEDP work?

In AEDP, you work to “undo aloneness” by talking about past experiences, and – within the safety of a supportive, nonjudgmental relationship with the therapist – digesting difficult feelings and inviting transformation.

AEDP is intended to transform client from their current state towards a state that is closer to their true, authentic self. With the aid of a supportive therapist, clients continuously look inwards to discover their deepest needs and desires.

AEDP considers itself rooted in interpersonal neurobiology, attachment theory, emotion theory and affective neuroscience, body-focused approaches, and transformational studies.

Structure of AEDP sessions

Foundational to AEDP is the relationship between therapist and client – a safe, supportive relationship that gives the client the opportunity to look inwards in genuine exploration.

In the first few sessions, the therapist works to developing this warm, caring, and nonjudgmental relationship with the client.

Once this relationship is solidified, the client feels less inhibited, and more willing to look deeper inwards. We all have defenses – the unconscious ways we protect ourselves from being hurt – and these are explored during AEDP.

Difficult feelings may come up during the early stages, including feelings that the client has always buried, and been too scared to experience alone. The therapist encourages this new flow of painful emotions, and as they are worked through, the client typically begins to feel lighter. Through continuous conversation, the client can grow stronger and recognize their own capacity for healing and change.

Over multiple sessions, AEDP therapists may cycle between a hands-on approach of guiding the client in processing past negative experiences and stepping back and allowing for the client to guide their own experience of emotions. In addition to talking about past experiences, the therapist and client talk about the “here-and-now” of their own relationship, and what it feels like to discuss challenging emotions. This processing invites further growth.

AEDP works with the assumption that we are all resilient and capable of change, regardless of past trauma.

What can AEDP help with?

AEDP works best for clients who have experienced past trauma or challenging early relationships with caregivers. These past trauma or attachment ruptures may surface in adulthood in a variety of ways, including as depression, anxiety, or difficulty forming and maintaining relationships.

How does AEDP help treat attachment trauma?

AEDP draws heavily from a psychological model called attachment theory. Attachment theory posits that it is essential that infants and children have supportive caregivers. These caregivers act as a supportive “base” off which the child can explore the world; they are reliable and supportive, but allow for gradually increased independence and exploration. In our childhoods, however, many of us experienced relationships with parents or caregivers that left us feeling uncomfortable; rather than being supportive and present, some of our caregivers may have been distant, invalidating, or distracted. The legacy of these early attachment relationships can run deep, and when this is the case, it can be challenging for us to form adult relationships that feel mutually supportive and loving.

AEDP aims to heal these ruptured attachment relationships by having the therapist create that supportive base and allow for the client’s independence and exploration without shame. Working with a therapist who can create a new relationship that feels supportive can help heal attachment relationships that harmed more than they helped.

New to therapy? Learn about how to find a therapist here.