Even though I am able to prescribe a variety of psychiatry medications, in case they are indicated, but psychotherapy is the focus of my psychiatry practice. I believe many mental health conditions can be treated using psychotherapy alone or as an important adjunct to medications. I practice Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) for most of my therapy patients. Or, I use this technique combined with other psychotherapy modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or mindfulness techniques to treat my patients.
In ISTDP we help the patient to become familiarized with their emotions. We as human beings have many emotions and some of them are painful. Therefore, we have learned to avoid/suppress them or not even experience them! We learn to use many defense mechanisms instead of feeling our emotions. Many of these defense mechanisms are destructive and cause mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, or obsessive compulsive disorder. Also, they can exacerbate physical conditions such as chronic pain. By experiencing these emotions and identifying them, especially knowing their physical characteristics, you are able to process them during the therapy session and gradually resolving your mental health complaints.
Depending on the condition, ISTDP can take just a few sessions up to a number of sessions. I always video tape my sessions with the patients and, I review the tapes after each session for quality care improvement. ISTDP research has shown that this technique is helpful for a variety of mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, OCD, panic attacks, insomnia, and even bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Also, there are studies showing that ISTDP is helpful in the treatment of chronic pain. Using street drugs, excessive alcohol, or certain medications may make this technique less effective. And if the patient has a few comorbid medical diseases such as IBS or Crohn's disease the effectiveness of ISTDP might be reduced.
I usually schedule patients for a 90 minute initial therapy session and then the follow up sessions are usually 45 minutes to one hour. Frequency, number, and length of the sessions all depend on the chronicity of the condition, its severity, and the patient's resources.