Object Relations

Object Relations


Object Relations Therapy defines the development process between the psyche of the client and how the individual relates to their environment. The theory itself explains that individuals will create current relationships depending on the experiences they had as a child with parents, siblings or guardians. This theory claims that social interactions the client had as a child will eventually build a standard in the subconscious mind. This client will then carry a standard or "object" around as an adult attaching it to every relationship or event. This is a habitual pattern that forms within the client and it can affect their overall social health.

Goals of Object Relations Therapy

During Object Relations Therapy treatment consists of various techniques used so that the client holds a neutral position in how they view others. The goal is to see people and the world around them in a neutral manner instead of attaching their world to this behavioral object. The focus of treatment is to show the client that they can improve relationships and interactions with others by removing the "object" that they naturally attach to events and people. This object shapes how they act in relationships. When it is held in a negative manner it could be detrimental to their happiness and health. By eliminating the standards and allowing the client to see people and relationships in an unbiased way it will rid of their conditioned perception.

When is Object Relations Therapy Used?

Object Relations Therapy is used when an individual can no longer base their ideas or wants off of something other than what this object is. It is a very common occurrence in those who have experienced a traumatic relationship with parents or guardians. The interaction created an "object" in their mind which is attached to every potential relationship and circumstance. These objects may turn into an automatic response because it is a conditioned attachment. Object Relations Therapy is used when the perception needs to be counteracted. The time that it takes to reverse this will depend on the client and the trauma that is associated with the object. When the therapist has eliminated the conditional way of thinking and the client can begin controlling the way that they handle relationships or respond to others, the treatment is deemed successful.

How Object Relations Therapy Works

This is a form of treatment that is similar to other methods of behavioral therapy. Sessions consist of goals and a given structure. Instead of the therapist speaking to the client in a subtle manner they will describe a problem and the goals that are associated with treatment. When the counselor is framing the trauma or relationships the client is likely to experience some repressed symptoms or memories. The problems that this client may have had with their parents or guardian will be assessed and the therapist will begin to discuss to the patient how they can deal with the attachment that they have toward this "object."

While treating a patient's behavior the structure is essential in helping them create goals and use the session time that they have effectively. Structure ensures that important information hasn't been missed. During the first session a thorough diagnosis of past relationships will be conducted. When the object of attachment has been found the therapist will begin to teach the client how they can go about dealing with the symptoms which will also eliminate judgment. Throughout treatment the therapist is going to be aggressive in making progress and ensuring that the client understands the principles and coping mechanisms. By the end of the treatment the individual should feel in control of how they interact and judge circumstances within their environment.

The most difficult part of the therapy treatment is detaching the client from an object that they have related everything to. This attachment has weighed them down and created the world that they are now familiar with. The length of time that it takes the client to detach themselves from the object will vary depending on the circumstances. The therapist will know when a patient is ready depending on their level of confidence and how in control they feel of their lives and relationships. By the end of treatment the ideas that they hold will be unbiased in nature.

Criticisms of Object Relations Therapy

Criticism pertaining to Object Relations Therapy is the same objectivity toward psychotherapy treatment. Some experts believe that there isn't enough experimental research. Many have argued that during treatment too much research relies on clinical cases.


Object relations therapy. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.theipi.org/about-ipi/our-mission/82-object-relations-therapy

Theories of personality. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072316799/student_view0/part2/chapter5/chapter_outline.html

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