During my last year of training at the Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program, I had the good fortune to take a course on Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy taught by the late Dr. Leigh McCullough. Watching the video she showed of her work with patients, I saw therapy that was active, direct, and focused on helping her patients achieve meaningful therapeutic change as rapidly as possible.
In contrast to previous psychotherapy training that had often seemed abstract and unfocused, her work was an inspiration. Immediately after completing my residency training in 1996, I joined her Psychotherapy Research Program at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and worked closely with her and that group over the following decade, eventually becoming Assistant Director. I was active in researching and disseminating Affect Phobia model of treatment, including serving as second author on our book for therapists, Treating Affect Phobia: A Manual for Short-Term Dynamic Therapy (Guilford Press, 2003). During that same period, I entered full-time private practice with a focus on psychotherapy, after spending 5 years as a Consultation-Liaison Psychiatrist at Cambridge Hospital.
Leigh was one of a number of people whose formative experience included training in ISTDP with its originator, Dr. Habib Davanloo, during the 1980s. Some in that group continued to practice ISTDP; others, like Leigh, developed their own therapy models based on what they had learned from Davanloo with various modifications. Together, ISTDP and these other therapies are known as Experiential Dynamic Therapies. In the early 2000s, members of this group came together to form an organization known as the IEDTA.
IEDTA conferences were my first direct exposure to ISTDP, which I found very intriguing. Over time, I became convinced that ISTDP is a more broadly applicable therapy with a more robust therapy community behind it. By 2008, I was ready to make the switch. I have been very fortunate to have two giant of the ISTDP world as my primary teachers: Allan Abbass and Jon Frederickson.
In the years since, I have been an active member of the EDT community. Since 2013, I have served on the IEDTA Board of Directors and as a leader of its Technology Committee. In 2018 and 2019, I served as the IEDTA President and as prime organizer of our biennial conference which took place in Boston in 2019. I continue to serve on the IEDTA Board.
To help ease the challenge of learning ISTDP and to foster coherence and dialogue among the various “flavors” or ISTDP, I published Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy: A Reference in 2014. Its reception in the ISTDP community has been everything I had hoped, and more.
In addition to my practice, writing, and work with the IEDTA, I have been active in teaching ISTDP in the Boston area, nationally, and internationally.
More information on my background, training, and experience is here.