Effective Management of Resistance in ISTDP, April 20-21st

We at the Malmö Center for ISTDP (MCI), together with the Swedish and Danish societies for ISTDP, are thrilled to host this 2-day workshop during spring 2023, focusing on managing resistance in ISTDP. This will be the third event in the event series Return to Davanloo that we’re organizing at the MCI.

Jonathan Entis

In the era of evidence-based medicine, despite great efforts, the health care system fails to help many depressed and anxious patients. A recurring research finding is that about two thirds of patients in psychiatric care and one third of patients in primary care get no relief from treatment, even when being offered the gold standard treatment alternatives currently available. From the perspective of Intensive Short-term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP), much of this nonresponse is caused by multiple unaddressed ways of avoiding and/or resisting emotional closeness in the therapy situation.

ISTDP was developed during the late 1970s and 1980s by Habib Davanloo in Montreal, Canada. Davanloo developed a number of novel strategies aimed at reaching the most highly defended patients, the ones who at the time were considered impossible to treat. Spending a lot of time watching his own recordings of therapy sessions, he tested and refined specific strategies of helping his patients see, understand and let go of highly entrenched defensive strategies, especially when those were linked to the patient’s identity (eg. highly syntonic).

With a growing evidence-base to support Davanloo’s findings, ISTDP has been successfully established in northern Europe in the last decade. More than 600 therapists have gone through the three-year ISTDP core training in the nordic countries alone in this brief period of time. Dr. Entis strives to revive certain parts of Davanloo’s teachings that are not emphasized in the branch of ISTDP currently taught in the nordic countries. He represents a slightly different flavour of ISTDP, with a similar but different way of approaching the resistance which includes a bigger emphasis on tactical defenses. Here you can read an interview with Jonathan that we did last year.

We think this will be two great days of learning for both newcomers to ISTDP as well as the advanced ISTDP clinician. On Day One, Jonathan will present didactic presentations with audiovisual presentations of actual therapy sessions with patients across a range of psychodiagnosis. On Day Two, live supervision will be offered to attendees who wish to have their work supervised in front of the group.

Here’s what Jonathan wants to say about the workshop:

In developing ISTDP, Davanloo created a revolutionary system for gaining access into the unconscious and resolving psychological suffering. He advocated for a therapeutic focus on turning patients against their own avoidance mechanisms, or resistance, and towards an embrace of emotional honesty.

Dr. Davanloo’s system, although highly effective, is incredibly difficult to master. No aspect of the model is more arduous to learn than the effective management of resistance, which rests on the therapist’s ability to maintain a positive alliance while relentlessly addressing the patient’s defenses.

In my view, some current iterations of ISTDP underemphasize this work on resistance, which might lead to the student of ISTDP putting premature pressure on the patient to experience feelings that are not within conscious reach. This can cause iatrogenic anger, misalliance, and all too often, impasse. In this 2-day workshop, I will showcase how to work exhaustively with resistance while maintaining a strong alliance.

I will highlight many of the technical elements necessary to help patients overcome their resistance, including confronting the tactical organization of the resistance, determination of syntonicity levels and how to adapt the approach accordingly, and the use of head-on collisions—the most challenging of all interventions to integrate.


Jonathan Entis, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is licensed in both Massachusetts and New York. He is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, where for the past four years he has taught and supervised in ISTDP. He is an IEDTA-certified teacher in ISTDP and has presented both nationally and internationally. He co-leads an annual seminar on working with syntonic defenses in Davanloo’s ISTDP with John Rathauser, PhD. Jonathan leads four international monthly online training groups in Davanloo’s ISTDP, and will co-lead an advanced Core Training in Amsterdam with John Rathauser beginning in early 2023. He is also a co-author with John Rathauser and Mikkel Reher-Langberg on the upcoming book, Fundamentals of Davanloo’s Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy, Volume I. You can contact him at drjonathanentis@gmail.com.


The workshop is open to licensed healthcare professionals and therapists in good standing, as well as students within these fields.

The supervision hours are offered on a first come, first served basis. If you’re interested, make sure to buy a ticket as soon as possible and specify in the form that you’re interested in receiving supervision.

Date and time

April 20: presentation day

April 21: supervision day

Times are roughly 9.00-17.00. At the end of the first day, there will drinks served at the Malmö Center for ISTDP.


The event will take place in central Malmö in southern Sweden. You can get to Malmö conveniently by flying to Copenhagen Airport, and then taking a 15 minute train from there. The venue will be confirmed at a later point.

Please note that online attendance is not possible for this event.

Malmö | Röda Korsets Ungdomsförbund


Early bird full ticket for both days (applicable before February 2023, $350)
Full ticket for both days ($400)
Day 1 only ticket ($200)
Day 2 only ticket ($200)

Members of the Swedish and Danish societies of ISTDP get a discount:
Early bird full ticket for both days (applicable before February 2023, $300)
Full ticket for both days ($350)
Day 1 only ticket ($175)
Day 2 only ticket ($175)


Please use this form to register: form. After filling out the form, we will contact you with information about how to proceed with the payment.

More info

At the end of the first day, there will be a reception with drinks.

This event is co-hosted by the Malmö Center for ISTDP, the Swedish Society for ISTDP and the Danish Society for ISTDP.

If you have questions, please email thomas.hesslow@gmail.com

Return to Davanloo

Return to Davanloo is a series of seminars at the Malmö Center for ISTDP emphasizing the roots of ISTDP in different ways. The first in the series was the Mikkel Reher-Langberg seminar in may 2022 on Davanloo’s development. The second seminar was the Allan Abbass seminar on Idealization and devaluation of ISTDP in november 2022. This will be the third seminar in the series.

We say return to Davanloo not in the sense of uncovering the true Davanloo, but rather in the sense of keeping Davanloo alive in the 21st century. Reading and drawing inspiration from Davanloo with the lens of the problems that we face as therapists today. We believe that for ISTDP to grow strong it needs a strong foundation in the Davanludian roots, at the same time as it allows for branches to unfold in many different directions.

Idealizing and devaluing ISTDP – some take-aways from 25 years of studying with Davanloo

On November 25th, the Malmö Center for ISTDP will host a seminar with Allan Abbass on the theme of idealization and devaluation of ISTDP.

Allan Abbass

Psychotherapy is hard to learn. When faced with difficulty, we might get emotionally overwhelmed and try to deal with the feelings through using defenses. In psychotherapy learning, it’s not uncommon for some or all of the students to have shorter or longer moments of idealization and/or devaluation. Maybe we devalue ourselves, the lost beginners, and idealize the strong, focused teacher who seems to know what to do in any situation.

Maybe we idealize our method, be that ISTDP, Psychoanalysis, EMDR, CBT or other orientation and devalue the methods of other therapists. Or we might end up in a depressed position, where we as therapists devalue psychotherapy as a whole, and idealize pharmacological interventions. Or worse, we might idealize our books, and devalue our poor patients who don’t seem to want to fit into them. Anyone who works with psychotherapy knows that these are common phenomena in learning psychotherapy. We devalue, we idealize.

What are the consequences for learning if processes of idealization and devaluation don’t get addressed in the learning community? Does the high-intensity emotional focus of ISTDP make processes of idealization and devaluation more present in ISTDP than in other forms of therapy?

In this second talk in the series ”Return to Davanloo”, Allan Abbass will discuss some take-aways from studying ISTDP with Davanloo and other teachers, focusing on idealization and devaluation in the educational setting of ISTDP. Allan became a student of Davanloo in the early nineties, and continued going to courses in Montreal for about 25 years.

Allan Abbass, MD, is a psychiatrist, teacher, and researcher. He is a professor of psychiatry and psychology and the founding director of the Centre for Emotions and Health at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. He is one of the foremost psychotherapy teachers and researchers in the world, and is the author of ”Reaching Through Resistance” and ”Hidden From View.”


Host: This event is hosted by Malmö Center for ISTDP, MCI.

Time and date: 18.00-19.30 on November 25th. Drinks will be available from 17.00.

Place: Malmö ISTDP-mottagning, Amiralsgatan 20 (våning 5), Malmö, Sweden. You can also attend digitally through Zoom. Note: Allan is participating digitally from Halifax.

Cost: Free

Registration: https://docs.google.com/…/1FAIpQLSf5…/viewform
A zoom link will be sent out shortly before the event.

You can watch the previous talk in the ”Return to Davanloo” series, a seminar with Mikkel Reher-Langberg called “A brief overview of Davanloo’s development and metapsychology”, on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_36zVxFpbo