Therapy The Object Relations Theory Of The Essay


Therapy The object relations theory of the personality developed from the study of the patient-therapist relationship as it relates to the earlier mother-infant dyad. Object relations theory emphasizes the infant's early experiences with its primary caregiver (typically the mother) as the fundamental determinant of the formation of adult personality. The infant's need for attachment is the primary motivating factor in the development of the self. Two schools of Object Relations theorists split off from Freud: one group often termed the British Independent group disagreed with the Freudian notion that behavior was a function of instincts and placed the ego at the center of personality (founded by British analysts Ronald Fairbairn, Donald Winnicott); the Kleinian group (founded by Melanie Klein) retained Freud's view concerning instincts but disagreed about the role of unconscious fantasy in the regulation of instinctual tension. Both schools concentrate on the first three years of life and the mother-infant relationship as being the main component of psychic structure formation (Scharff & Scharff, 1998). There are several areas of focus in Object Relations therapy:

The object refers to a portion of the psychic structure formed from the individual's experiences with the primary caretakers and is expressed in the personality via internalization, so that the personality will retain traces of these relationships. This internalized object is not a memory but represents an integral part of the self and is expressed in one's the individual's choice of relationships with others and can be modified through relationships with external objects (such as the therapist). Internal objects are just one piece of the self which is comprised of: (1) traditional ego functions, (2) internal objects, and (3) objects and components of the ego held together by the affects of one's experiences of object relationships. The self is basically the enduring components of one's character that comprise most of the basic functions of personality (Scarff & Scarff, 1998).


The therapist and patient work together to examine the patient's earlier object relations and how they affect the patient's current relationships in the context of their relationship in the therapeutic environment. As the client relates to the therapist in session this is believed to reflect how the client relates to others in his/her life. This relationship forms a sort of laboratory that allows the therapist to understand how the patient relates to others. The therapist processes the experiences of the therapeutic relationship and helps the client understand how these experiences relate in his/her life as the patient creates a relationship with the therapist reflecting the internal object relations that the patient brings to all of their interactions with others. The therapist will experience expressions of object relationships by making themselves available all of to the fantasies, feelings, reactions that occur within the patient (transference and countertransference). The patient's transference is seen as an expression of their internal object relationships, whereas, the countertransference is viewed as the basis for the understanding of the patient by the therapist. The emotions and attitudes experienced by the therapist serve to form a representation of how others who deal with the patient react. The therapist examines such experiences as a set of clues as to the patient's problems and will then use the countertransference experiences in interpretation of the patient's transference (Stadter, 2009).
In contrast, cognitive therapy is based on the assumption that a person's thoughts or beliefs occur before their mood states are experienced. Certain learned false or incorrect beliefs about oneself can lead to negative emotional states. The essence of cognitive therapy is based on the assumption that these irrational beliefs lead to irrational thoughts that lead to dysfunctional emotional states or difficulties with…

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