Jill Scharff on Object Relations Therapy with Couples
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What is Object Relations Therapy?
|Rafal Mietkiewicz:||Jill, you are a renowned psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and object relations therapy expert. You’ve written and edited many books on object relations therapy so I’m wondering if we can start with just a basic overview of what object relations therapy actually is. It can seem like rocket science to beginning therapists.|
|Jill Savege Scharff:||It’s an unfortunate term, “object relations,” but it was chosen in deference to Freud’s use of the term “object,” which refers to the object that the drive to be in relationship attaches to. Freud talked about the sexual and aggressive drives later in his life, the life and death drives. Fairbairn, who introduced the term “object relations theory,” talked about people’s main motivation being to be in relationship, not only for love an security, but also for a sense of meaning. Giving meaning to existence.|
It’s not just the mother who gives meaning to the baby, but the baby who gives meaning to the mother, who becomes a mother because she has the baby to relate to and care for. Object relations refers to the internal psychic structure that develops from these early experiences.
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Jill Savege Scharff, MD is Co-director of the International Psychotherapy Institute and Chair of the International Institute for Psychoanalytic Training. She is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School and Teaching Analyst at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute. Her private practice in Chevy Chase, Maryland is concentrated on psychoanalysis with children and adults, and on couple and family therapy.
Dr. Scharff edited Foundations of Object Relations Family Therapy, (1989) and The Autonomous Self: The Work of John D. Sutherland (1994). She wrote Projective and Introjective Identification: The Therapists Use of Self (1992). With David E. Scharff, M.D. she co-authored Object Relations Family Therapy (1987), Object Relations Couple Therapy (1991), Scharff Notes: A Primer of Object Relations Therapy (1992 and 2nd edition 2005), Object Relations Therapy of Physical and Sexual Trauma (1994), Object Relations Individual Therapy (1998), Tuning the Therapeutic Instrument: The Affective Learning of Psychotherapy (2000), and co-editor of Self Hatred in Psychoanalysis: Detoxifying the Persecutory Object (2003) and The Legacy of Fairbairn and Sutherland (2005). She is series co-editor of the Library of Object Relations at Jason Aronson, Inc.
Dr. Scharff has been the invited guest speaker at scientific meetings, symposia and workshops on psychoanalysis, marital and family therapy throughout the United States and Europe. She is also interested in social dance and theatre. She founded the Cosmos Club Theatre in Washington D.C. where members' plays are performed in readers theatre and put into workshop.Rafal Mietkiewicz is a clinical psychologist working in private practice in Gdańsk, Poland. He is trained as a Gestalt psychotherapist, and includes an existential approach in his work. Apart from classical psychological knowledge, he takes a lot of inspiration from literature, art and philosophy. He is a dedicated vegan, runner and triathlete.