Object relations therapy | E Therapy

Object relations therapy

This therapy is based on the work of Ronald Fairbairn and Klien.

Melanie Klien worked with children and stated the characteristics of the relationship between the child in the first months of life and the mother (object) was the blueprint that would play out in later life. She stated that the struggles and worries encountered by children come from their relationships with parents or carers - ‘There's no such thing as an infant without taking account of maternal care’ (Winnicott,1960).

This therapy is based on clients who found it difficult to relate to the people in their lives and the therapist. Fairbairn stated the internal life of the patient was a ‘closed system’ and the therapist’s role was to help open up this to allow the person to be influenced and be part of the external reality.

Fairburn maintained the ‘closed system’ prevents the person from treating others as unique individuals because they are trapped in acting as though the other person is an ‘internal object’ from their experience as a child.

According to this therapy, change in the client happens when the relationship with the analyst shifts from one being projected by the client from their childhood (the ‘internal object’ in the ‘closed system’) to being more realistic to one in the outer world.

This development will cause a struggle in the client as he or she fights to keep the pattern they have used in the past to maintain relationships.

This is suitable for adults and children: it is part of the psychoanalytic school of thought.