AEDP Institute

On Safety and Caring

AEDP works through safety and caring. The AEDP therapist creates safety through a warm and emotionally engaged relationship where the patient is valued and respected. Because the patient feels safe and cared for, his defenses against feelings aren’t needed as much as in other areas of his life, so the defenses “melt” away with the therapist’s help. As the defenses dissolve, the therapist helps the patient to manage the deep feelings that are then free to emerge. These feelings are ones that have almost always been too difficult, frightening, or painful for the patient to experience alone, so feeling them in the company of a caring other is new and freeing. Though painful, being met in the feelings is healing. When the full wave of emotion flows through, the patient feels lighter, grateful, transformed, changed for the better. The therapist then encourages the patient to reflect on the healing and transformational feelings, and this reflection generates deeper and deeper levels of healing and growth.

Candyce Ossefort-Russell, Austin TX

On Transformation

A patient arrives for her appointment, angst-ridden, full of despair and diffuse pain. She is ashamed and feels weak for not being able to pick herself up by the bootstraps and cope. The AEDP therapist invites fuller disclosure of her feelings, emphasizing her perseverance and courage for sharing them. The patient looks up surprised, a new light in her eyes, as she holds the gaze of her therapist, drinking in permission, understanding, new self-perception. Then, as the therapist gently leads the dyad deeper into the pool of pain and grief and aloneness inside, always maintaining a shared, tolerable edge to the emotional experience, the patient sobs deeply. In the wake of this wave of emotion, they explore the patient’s sense of relief, self-compassion, lightness, gratitude. She leaves feeling transformed, freer, cared for and full of hope.

Kari Gleiser, Hanover NH

On Undoing Aloneness I

The most powerful tenets of AEDP are to establish safety and undo aloneness. From the first moments together the therapist and client are developing a relationship from which to explore
unresolved and painful issues from the past and even more importantly to experience and process how they change and what comes from their new experiences.

Karen Pando Mars, San Francisco CA


  • The AEDP therapist has faith in the humanity in relationship and offers safety and security unsparingly.
  • The AEDP therapist participates actively to help a client face the distress that has initiated their healing journey.
  • The AEDP therapist sees psychotherapy as a tremendous opportunity for growth and transformation and holds this perspective throughout the course of treatment.
  • The AEDP therapist practices the art of guidance, recognizing when and how to assist the client be with their emotional life, and then, when to step out of the way and be present to witness the natural phenomena of cascading emotions and experiences.
  • The AEDP therapist trusts the process and recognizes that helping clients face and move through painful experiences can bring them to new places that have the uncanny aspect of feeling true and more deeply real than anything previously imagined.
  • The AEDP therapist revels in witnessing clients come to experience themselves freshly with calm knowing and recognition that this is the self they have always been.
  • The AEDP therapist celebrates the mystery of human experience and the wonder of the transformational journey. This lives in their being and is part of the interpersonal matrix between client and therapist that supports and fosters healing and discovery.

Karen Pando-Mars, San Francisco CA

On Emotion

AEDP is a psychotherapeutic approach based on the idea that deep, viscerally felt affective experiences have the inherent capacity to rapidly and comprehensively transform people. Facilitated through a relationship with an actively engaged, emotionally attuned, empathic, affirming therapist, the patient is guided to process emotions deemed too overwhelming to face. Experientially processing these previously avoided emotions activates innate self-righting mechanisms, adaptive action tendencies and other resources that support psychological well-being and optimal functioning.

Jerry Lamagna, New York NY

On Safety and Connection

AEDP works through creating a container of emotional and psychic safety that invites and even provokes a deep experience of being connected to ones self and the self of another. The therapist in the practice of AEDP engages an authenticity and vividness of self-expression that invokes a field of safety and interest, which in turn invites and ushers in experiences of heightened emotional presence within the patient. The patient’s deepened emotional experience and expression, then brings in turn, a heightened permeability and awareness within the therapist. What had been held off in the distance within the patient becomes vitally experience-near in each evolving moment to both the therapist and the patient.

David Mars, San Francisco CA

Three Words

Corrective Emotional Experience (how’s that for less?)

Steve Shapiro, Malverne PA

On the Heart

AEDP is about working with the heart. Amazing things happen when both therapist and client tune into their hearts: people feel strengthened, they discover potentials and capacities for healing, growth and transformation that they never thought possible.

Diana Wais, London