Transformance Journal: Volume 9

Introduction to Summer Reading Issue 

Gil Tunnell, Ph.D

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Welcome to our issue for “light” Summer Reading! I say “light” only because there are three articles and each one is short. Yet each article captures the essence of AEDP.

Two articles are reviews of recently published self-help books written by Hilary Jacobs Hendel (2018) and Senior Faculty member Ron Frederick (2019). As their reviewers, Stephen McDonnell and Carrie Ruggieri, write, each book can be recommended to (a) lay people, (b) clients who want to know more about AEDP, (c) colleagues new to AEDP, and (d) AEDP clinicians who want a refresher course. Both Hendel and Frederick take the reader into the actual lived experience of AEDP with clients, with the added benefits of (a) revealing narratives of their own personal struggles, and (b) offering exercises for emotional mindfulness for all of us.

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User-Friendly AEDP: A Review of Hilary Jacobs Hendel’s It’s Not Always Depression

Stephen McDonnell, LCSW

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Hilary Jacobs Hendel, LCSW, has written a friendly and simple “User’s Guide” to AEDP therapy, core emotions and defenses, attachment and trauma, and “the gold” of Core State, or as Hilary has nicknamed Core State for a general audience, the Openhearted State. It’s a great book that could be offered to clients who would like an informed supplement to our experiential therapy with them, a book to recommend to others in our lives for whom we might want to plant seeds about trying therapy, or to those who might need some self-help for their emotional regulation (a friend of mine just sent it to her son in college). Also, other clinicians—those new to AEDP as well as well-seasoned AEDP therapists—will find the book useful in learning how another therapist practices AEDP.

The book is user-friendly and simply written, yet it shows the depth of Hilary’s deep inquiry into these subjects—AEDP, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR), Internal Family Systems (IFS), Somatic Experiencing (SE) and neuroscience. Simply put, the book contains everything one needs to understand emotions, why they are important for us humans, and what blocks us from being in touch with them.

There are many lists in the book. For example, in the Appendix there is a list of most of the sensations and all the emotion words we use when describing a core emotion. Every chapter has shaded boxes that describe complex concepts simply, such as “Things to Know about Panic Attacks,” and “Shame Is Not Guilt,” and “How to Stay in an Openhearted State in the Face of Life’s Challenges.” Every chapter ends with “Experiments,” as Hilary calls them, akin to AEDP’s interventions to try something new—quizzes and practices to apply the theory, e.g., how to do “Belly Breathing” to slow down, and “Nine Ways to Begin Working with Your Shame.”

The book is structured to cover all the “essential skills” for doing this on one’s own: (a) explaining the importance of core emotions and their release, (b) understanding how our defenses inhibit emotions, (c) identifying both big T and small t trauma, (d) using the “Change Triangle,” as Hilary has nicknamed the Triangle of Experience to name defenses and release core emotions, and finally (e) appreciating the Openhearted State.

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AEDP Author as True Other: A Successful Application of AEDP Ethos in a Self-Help Book: A Review of Ron Frederick’s

Loving Like You Mean It: Use the Power of Emotional Mindfulness to Rewire Your Brain and Transform Your Relationships

Carrie Ruggieri, LMHC

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Loving Like You Mean It is a sequel to Ron Frederick’s 2009 best-selling book, Living Like You Mean It. On the surface it is a self-help book. But in fact, it is whatever a reader needs it to be (an AEDP primer, a model for how to scaffold complex information yet retain the complexity, how to write suspenseful vignettes, how to rewire a brain, how to author as a True Other, and how to free oneself to love like you meant it). This is not simply masterful; it is wizardry.

Frederick enables the reader, at once and throughout, to apprehend the mysteries of the human heart in animate layers. Through a cognitive illumination of how our earliest relationships wire our brains to affect our perceptions and behaviors in our adult relationships, into an experienced- near reflection of how we live this wiring in our most tender and vital of emotions, and throughout this integrated cognitive-experiential reading, we find ourselves swept up from its gravity, only to be captured by astonishment.

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Is This AEDP? Six Unique Characteristics of AEDP

Hans Welling, Ph.D.

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Often asked during workshops on Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy is the question, “Is this AEDP?” The difficulty understanding what AEDP exactly stands for comes from the fact that AEDP is a highly integrative model that brings together elements from many different psychotherapy orientations (Fosha, 2000). Thus, observing AEDP therapists at work reminds workshop attendees of other therapies and can raise the question about what is different about AEDP.

AEDP is experiential, is relational, works with attachment, focuses on the positive, and works with the defenses and emotions. In that sense, AEDP bears resemblance to short- term dynamic therapies, relational and interpersonal therapies, emotion-focused therapies, and body-focused therapies. Yet AEDP is much more than just the sum of these elements; when we see an AEDP therapist at work there is something about the style and type of interventions that can be quickly recognized as distinctively AEDP.

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