Object Relations Therapy

Object Relations Therapy

Object relations therapy is a theory that the human personality developed as it reflects the mother-infant relationship. The theory of object relations therapy says that an infant’s experience in relationship with its mother or caregiver is the primary motivating factor in the development of the infant self.

Object relations therapy and theory’s main focus is on internal objects. An internal object is a piece of psychic structure that is formed from the person’s experiences with the important caretakers such as a mother and father, early in life. These experiences are captured in the personality of each individual through a process known as internalization so that the personality will bear traces of the early relationships. Object relations therapy goes off the idea that the internal object is neither a memory nor a representation but is more of an integrated part of the person’s being. These internal objects as described by objects relation therapy are present in the individual’s choice of and interactions with other people in their life now.

According to object relations therapy, the internal objects are just one component of the self. Object relations therapy states that the self-comprises of:

  • The old fashioned concept of ego as a mechanism of self-control and mediates relationships with the outside world
  • The internal objects
  • The objects and parts of the ego that affect feelings

Self then, according to object relations therapy, is a combination of ego and internal objects in a different and very dynamic relationship that makes up the character and gives personal identity that remains constant overtime.

Object relations therapy is an all-inclusive term that includes everything from intrapsychic and interpersonal dimensions. Object relations therapy refers to the interactions and relationships between the various elements of self and then how it is expressed in current relationships with other people.

Object relations therapy puts the relationship between the therapist and the patient at the center of the way it works. The way that this happens is because in object relations therapy the focus is on examining the patient’s self and internal world and how it affects the patient’s relationships and at the same time the patient and therapist are in a relationship between themselves.  This approach of object relations therapy forms the area in which the therapist can learn the patient’s way of relating and difficulties they include. This current relationship between the therapist and patient gives both of them something to
study and learn from.

In object relations therapy it is the therapist’s task to experience the current expressions of relationships by making himself or herself available to the fantasies, feelings etc. that come up within them specifically in response to the patient. Object relations therapy views the patient’s expression of internal relationships within the therapeutic relationship itself giving the therapist the ability to understand and fully interpret the patient and relationship itself.

Object relations therapy if done right allows the therapist to examine clues into the patient’s problems and then will use that to help the patient.