(Originally posted 16 November 2014) Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy: A Reference, by Nat Kuhn. Experient Publications, 2014.
Reviewed by Maurice Joseph, MPsy
Nat Kuhn’s Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy: A Reference is enjoyable and relatable in a way that I never imagined a dictionary could be. It is a massive contribution to the ISTDP community. Relevant for beginners and veterans of ISTDP, it is also a welcome bridge to the larger psychotherapy world.
Beginning with his introductory comments, Nat’s book includes one of the best representations yet available of the attitudes necessary to provide effective psychotherapy, and in that sense it is a major ethical and philosophical contribution to our field (see, for example, entries on Neutrality, Support, Omnipotence, Disrespect, Advice). Nat models a position of striving for expertise and openness to new information that is essential to the mastery and application of any model of psychotherapy.
Another powerful contribution of the book is the inclusion of personal communications with leading teachers in the field, especially Abbass and Frederickson, and references to immersions and supervisions with them. This allows readers access to information that is not yet published elsewhere. Nat also provides detailed definitions of concepts such as Working Through, Termination, Crystallization, Phase of Consolidation, Complex Transference Feelings, Head-On Collision, Projection, and Portrayal; introduces new ideas (e.g., Externalism, Incrementalism); and has moments that are beautifully poetic (see Sadness).
ISTDP purists will appreciate that Nat integrates recent developments in the model while ultimately staying true to Davanloo’s metapsychology. By linking these concepts to psychoanalytic theory, Nat makes the model more accessible to people with a psychodynamic background. His thoroughness and clarity of thought and language will also make the model more accessible for cognitive-behavioral therapists. Comparisons to other models (e.g. “supportive” psychotherapy, Tomkins’ affect theory, psychoanalysis) showcase the advances made in Davanloo’s new metapsychology of the unconscious.
Fortunately, Nat is turning the Reference book into a living document by creating a website (http://www.istdp-reference.org/) where we can submit or suggest edits, critiques, or additions. I look forward to watching this text grow and change, and will certainly recommend it to fellow students of ISTDP for years to come.