The good news, says Dr. Abbass, is that studies have shown that intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy reduces both medical and hospital costs dramatically. Treatment, consisting of an average of seven talk sessions with a psychotherapist, costs about $500, but results in a $12,700 reduction in hospital costs and doctors’ visits, he says. After treatment, 80 per cent or more of the patients who were unable to work, return to the workforce. Often a noticeable change in the patient can be seen after three sessions, he adds.
Using the intensive psychotherapy, Dr. Abbass and his small team at the centre help patients view psychological disorders through the lens of attachment. As children, many of the centre’s patients experienced the death of a parent, abuse or neglect and were left with pain, intense anger, and guilt about the anger. Fearing these emotions, they learned to avoid them and also to avoid closeness with people. As adults, these blocked emotions often show up as anxiety or medically unexplained symptoms.
When these emotions are unblocked and experienced, patients often feel an immediate drop in tension, anxiety, and other physical symptoms, says Dr. Abbass, who teaches the intensive psychotherapy around the world and has more than 175 publications. In 2015, he published a book called Reaching Through Resistance which describes the method in detail.