Log in



ISTDP is an evidence-based therapy model that offers an attachment-focused system of assessment and intervention that can help you increase your attunement and effectiveness with a wide range of patients.

The focus on attachment and response-to-intervention in ISTDP helps therapists to:

  • Identify and address interpersonal avoidance behaviors that can block therapy success.
  • Identify and address a wide range of anxiety responses so that patients can gain the courage to face what they usually avoid; and
  • Help even the most fragile clients to build their capacity to overcome avoidance and anxiety so they can experience and learn from their emotions and memories.

ISTDP has been shown to be uniquely effective with treatment-resistant and somatoform conditions, and has been found to be cost-effective, with shortened treatment lengths, across a wide range of conditions. Graduates of our program report that they not only learned theory and skills; they became more effective because they were helped to integrate the model with their own personal strengths and style.



Michelle May, LPC, NCC

Michelle M. May is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Virginia and Washington, DC. Michelle is the Chair of the Intensive Short-  Term Dynamic Psychotherapy Core Training program at New Washington School of Psychiatry in Washington, DC and has taught Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy at Washington School of Psychiatry since 2019. Michelle has a private practice in Arlington, Virginia where she provides intensive dynamic psychotherapy for adults and couples. She is a Certified Teacher by the International Experiential Dynamic Therapy Association (IEDTA) and supervises licensed medical and mental health professionals in Experiential Dynamic Therapies such as ISTDP. Michelle is passionate about educating the public about dynamic therapy and offers information about intensive dynamic therapy on Instagram @michellemmaylpc.


Jack Tawil, MSW

Jack N. Tawil is a Licensed Clinical Social Work in Maryland. Jack has been in private practice in Annapolis Maryland since 2008 specializing in Intensive Short Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) for adults and couples. Jack has been a teacher, supervisor, and trainer in the ISTDP program at the Washington School of Psychiatry since 2016 and is currently Co-Chair. In addition to private practice, Jack has served as Clinical Affiliate at the George Washington University Counseling Center and has also held various posts at outpatient mental clinics across the DC/Baltimore metropolitan region where he has worked with diverse client populations. Jack truly enjoys being a teacher and educator of ISTDP and getting the word out about his transformative training model of psychotherapy.


Stuart Andrews, PhD

Lisa Bendzsa, MA

Kessler Bickford, MA

Diane Byster, LMFT

Jon Frederickson, MSW

Timothy Freitas, PsyD

Nima Ghorbani, PhD

Maury Joseph, PsyD

Nyambura Kamau, MA

Michelle May, LPC

Janet Merkel, PhD

Jack Tawil, LCSW


Margo Silberstein, EdD


Developed by Habib Davanloo, MD in the 1960’s, the theory and technique of ISTDP have been refined and elaborated by later generations of his students around the world. The efficacy of ISTDP has been widely researched and demonstrated with a variety of disorders. All ISTDP therapists understand that a patient’s problems result from defenses that arise in response to the anxiety that is coupled with unconscious feeling. The goal of therapy is to help the patient develop the ability to attend to internal experiences to regulate anxiety and turn against maladaptive defenses. This allows unconscious emotions to emerge, become integrated, and pave the way for consistent, unfettered access to motivational feelings.



First Year

Basic principles of ISTDP theory:

  • Anxiety assessment and regulation
  • Defense identification and restructuring
  • Identification of unconscious emotions
  • Eliciting and elaborating feeling experience
  • Maintaining therapeutic focus and building the alliance
  • Assessing and building will and motivation for change
  • Dismantling resistance
  • 'Working through' in ISTDP
  • Variations of the ISTDP technique for special populations

Second and Third Year

Each three-day weekend will address one ISTDP concept and corresponding techniques. Examples of core training topics include:

  • Psychodiagnosis – Moment-to-moment assessment of ego adaptive capacity and corresponding interventions
  • Superego pathology – Identification of malignant internalizations which create character defenses; assessment of their effect on ego functioning; and techniques for helping patients turn against these pathological forces
  • Transference resistance – Techniques for handling defiant, passive, helpless, and uninvolved transference resistances


WSP classes begin in mid-September. (All times are in Eastern Standard Time.)

The ISTDP program is a three-year certificate program. Students can opt to take just year-one or pursue the full three-year certificate.

First Year

The ISTDP program’s emphasis on skill development makes it distinct among psychotherapy programs. Theory and technique are taught in tandem throughout the program. During the first year of the program, students learn the metapsychology and techniques of ISTDP. Faculty share videos of their clinical work.

The First year class meets 20 times in the academic year on Fridays from 3:30PM to 5:30PM. Consultative supervision follows from 5:45PM to 6:45PM, 18 sessions per year.

Second and Third Year

The second and third year of the program emphasize technique and skill building. In-depth lectures and videotape demonstrations are combined with role play and supervision of students’ videotaped sessions. Students present their clinical work to learn how to apply techniques across the spectrum patients.

Small group consultative supervision for second/third year students is held Fridays, 4:00PM to 6:00PM, 10 sessions per year. The second/third year class meets for three 3-day core-training weekends in November, February, and April.


ISTDP will be 100% virtual and classes will be held synchronously via Zoom.

Students will need to ensure that their computer/laptop and web browser works with Zoom. Click here to learn more about Zoom compatibility requirements.

Students will be able to access course readings and syllabi via their program's Google Drive. To successfully participate in courses, students need the following:

  • Computer/Laptop with audio and visual capacity
  • Basic technology skills (e.g., familiarity with powering the computer; typing; browsing the internet)
  • Access to internet and Zoom

Students will not need to have a Zoom account to join class meetings or access course files. However, faculty may require a password to access meetings or files. Please consult with your faculty to obtain access.


First Year

CE credits will be available. Credits are awarded on a class-by-class basis with full attendance required for each class. Partial credit is not possible.

Students must provide "proof of presence" by ensuring that their camera is on during class.

Second and Third Year

Pending approval, CE credits will be available for the second and third year students in the program. Credits are awarded for full attendance of the first day of each weekend unit. Partial credit is not possible.

Students must provide "proof of presence" by ensuring that their camera is on during class.

*Continuing education requirements vary from state to state. Many state boards grant reciprocity with national accrediting organizations and other state boards. It is the responsibility of each professional to understand the requirements for license renewal or check with the state or national licensing board and/or professional organization to become more familiar with their policies for acceptable continuing education credit.


Admissions is closed for Fall 2024

To apply, click here: New Washington School of Psychiatry (NWSP) - Student Portal (

For more information, contact either the chair or co-chair:

Michelle M. May, LPC, NCC, Chair:

Jack Tawil, LCSW, Co-Chair:


2024 - 2025*

1st year: $60 per supervision/deliberate practice hour. Tuition $1,900.

2nd year: $120 per Friday supervision. Tuition $3,100.

3rd year: $80 per Friday supervision. Tuition $1,900.

2025 - onward

1st year: $60 per supervision/deliberate practice hour. Tuition $1,900.

2nd/3rd year: $120 per Friday supervision. Tuition $3,100.

* This reflects a tuition change for all students after Fall 2023.

Click here for Accreditation Statement and AMEDCO Continuing Education Certification.


20th Year Anniversary of the ISTDP Program

Join us to celebrate the 20th Year Anniversary of the ISTDP Program at the New Washington School of Psychiatry. Our program is the second oldest program of its kind in the world. Mingle with current and former students and faculty of the program, as well as members of the ISTDP community in the DC area. Food and drink will be provided  (Passover appropriate food items will be served)

Date & Time: Saturday, April 27th @ 6:30PM

Location: St. John’s Church, Norwood Parish, 6701 Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815

Cost: $20

Click here for more information and to register.

Please RSVP by: Friday, April 19th

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software