What is Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT)?
DIT is a time-limited (16 sessions) psychodynamic therapy that has been specifically developed for the treatment of mood disorders and interpersonal difficulties.
One of the main ideas worked within psychodynamic therapy is that when something is very painful we can find ourselves trying to ignore it. Most of the time we know when we are doing this, but sometimes we can bury something so successfully that we lose sight of it completely. This is why difficult experiences in the past can continue to affect the way we feel and behave in the present. DIT provides people with a safe place to talk openly about how they feel and to understand how elements of our emotional experience (when put out of mind) can contribute to problems with mood.
By helping you to talk freely about yourself and your relationships; by drawing attention to dynamic patterns in relationships, your therapist will help you to understand themselves better. This understanding might help you then make changes in the way that you respond in relationships. This pattern and how it links to your mood disorder and relational patterns becomes the focus of the treatment.
What will DIT involve for you?
Your therapist will need to get as good a picture as they can of what you are finding difficult in your life and how this is affecting you and the people close to you. They will need to ask you some questions in order to support you giving this information. Although your therapist will need to gather some basic information about you and your life and your current and past relationships, in particular, some of the time they will wait for you to talk. This is because they are interested in hearing about what is on your mind rather than asking you lots of questions. Sometimes your therapist may remain silent, waiting for you to speak. This may well feel a bit uncomfortable – for example, you may feel unsure about what to say. However, if this gets too uncomfortable, talk with your therapist about it.
When your therapist has enough information they will begin thinking with you about what would be most helpful for you to focus on over the 16 sessions. This is a collaborative process: an opportunity for you to reach an agreement with your therapist about what you want out of the therapy. In DIT the therapist will typically aim to help you to work on a recurrent pattern in your relationships, but it is important that this pattern is one that you have been fully involved in mapping out.
Length and frequency of treatment
You will have 16 sessions in total which will usually take place once a week. Your therapist will discuss with you any planned breaks and what happens if you cancel sessions. At the start of each session, you will fill in 2 brief questionnaires which act as a guide to how you might be feeling.
Ending the therapy
Many patients find that ending the therapy is difficult. This is because the relationship that develops between you and your therapist can become quite important. Ending therapy can feel like a big loss and you are likely to experience a range of feelings about it. Your therapist will know and understand this and you should expect them to help you to explore your feelings, including any worries you might have about how you will cope in the future. They should help you think about how you would manage if things became difficult again. The aim of DIT is not to remove your problems – everyone has problems that they need to deal with. The hope is that you will learn how to manage better and so avoid problems becoming major difficulties again.