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Transcript
Theories of Counseling:
Object Relations Theory
PowerPoint produced by Melinda Haley, M.S., New Mexico State University.
“This multimedia product and its contents are protected under copyright law. The following are prohibited by law:
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“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Theory
Basic Tenets

Examines the relationship between and among people.
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Examines how the history of interpersonal relationships are transferred
from the past to the present through behavior.

Looks at the primary caregiver (this is culturally defined and might be the
mother, father, grandparents, extended family or community.)
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
Attachment Theory
Ainsworth

Mother-infant relationship is the start of personality development.

Significant elements of the personality carry forward into later life.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
Attachment Theory
John Bowlby

Stresses the importance of the child developing in relation to the context
and environment.
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Provided theory of attachment.

The child impacts the environment and the environment impacts the child.

Attachment styles: Secure, anxious/resistant, anxious/avoidant.

Securely attached children are able to successfully separate and
individuate.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
Theory of Personality

Humans are born with autonomous motivation to relate to other people.

Humans are born with a wide range of capabilities, possibilities and
capacities.

Children who feel loved, prized, nurtured, feel secure and develops trust
for the caretaker, can internalize positive effects.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
Development of Personality

The “other” person provides context and focus that the infant needs in his
or her early personality development.

Context: the “arms-around holding” that the caregiver provides for the
infant.

Focus: The direct” eye-to- eye” relationship that the caregiver provides
that the infant needs to relate to and think about experience.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
Development of Personality

The caretaker becomes the object that nurtures the infant’s attachment.

Without attachment formation, the infant will die.
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Personality is formed through interaction with others.

The need for relationships throughout life is at the center of personality
development.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
Nature of Maladjustment

Pathology is viewed in terms of developmental arrest.
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Developmental arrest results in unfinished, disorganized and unintegrated
parts of personality.

Individuals can also become traumatized by early attachment
disturbances.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
Main Concepts

Object: A person who provides gratification to the infant or person or with
whom a person relates.
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Object relations is essentially an individuals need of important others from
infancy to old age.

Humans are essentially social and the need for relationships is at the core
of the self.

Humans exist both in an external and internal world.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
Main Concepts

The object that libido is continuously seeking is another human being.

Motivation is understood in terms of striving for a relationship.

Splitting: Infants who are exposed to a high degree of uncertainty and
stress may find it impossible to form an attachment. The infant then
separates everything bad from everything good.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
The Counseling Process

Client/therapist relationship: Person-to-person relationship with the
therapist is crucial.
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Focus on the client: Therapists genuinely accept all clients and the
therapist follows the client’s affective lead.

Transference is also important but it is less important than the quality of
the therapist/client relationship.

The therapist shows deep empathy and attends to the client’s expressed
wish, dream or fantasy that brings understanding to an internalized
relational issue.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
Strategies for Helping Clients

The therapist builds a relationship, shows empathic understanding,
concern and acceptance and tries to uncover meaning in the client's inner
world.
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The therapist works to create an environment in which the client can be
himself or herself and maintain autonomy.

Once the bond and trust has been established, the therapist goes after
painful, guarded material to confront the client and help him or her better
gain self-understanding.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
Strategies for Helping Clients

The therapist attends to the client’s inner world dimension (e.g. dreams,
fantasies, wishes and needs), looking for object relational issues.

The therapist also attends to what the client says, what the client does not
say, and how the client reacts.

Primacy of relationship is established over impulse and serves as the
central psychoanalytic rationale.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy

Object relations has deepened our understanding of humans and their
relationships.

Object relations has transformed Western social policies (e.g. children are
placed in foster homes instead of impersonal institutions.)
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
Disadvantages

The model fails to account for certain needs of the client (e.g. the need to
be alone or to regress.)

It may not work well with mandated clients or those who do not want to
explore themselves through the therapeutic relationship.

It is considered to be culture-bound.

Writings about object relations are complex and difficult to understand.

Transference and countertransference don’t always allow a client to work
through difficult feelings.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
Use with Diverse Populations

Some therapists believe that because object relations is about
relationships, it can adapt to other cultures.
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Many feel it is universal in the way it looks at things.

It encompasses age, race, gender, nationality and socioeconomic status.

Cultural differences are brought out in the open immediately.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Object Relations Therapy
The Individual, Family and the Collective Cultural Unconscious
Taub-Bynum’s work discusses:

Family and Culture: The family unit is the bearer of the culture. Family
and its function vary among different cultures.

The Family and the Collective Cultural Unconscious: The family
unconscious is composed of emotional energy from earliest life.

Therapeutic Implications: Clients often act out the family and cultural
unconscious.
Resources
Ivey, A. E., D’Andrea, M., Ivey, M. B. and Morgan, L. S. (2002). Theories of counseling
and psychotherapy: A multicultural perspective, 5th ed. Boston, MA.: Allyn &
Bacon.
James, R. K. & Gilliland, B. E. (2003). Theories and strategies in counseling and
psychotherapy, 5th ed. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
Kottler, J. A. (2002). Theories in counseling and therapy: An experiential approach.
Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
“Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”