Object Relations Psychotherapy

Object relations psychotherapy is a form of psychotherapy based on object relations theory, which places emphasis on the assumption that relationships in adulthood are shaped by family experiences during childhood. The ‘objects’ are internalized images of significant events and people in one’s life, which are formed during childhood and held in the unconscious throughout the lifespan, and the child is seen to be autonomously motivated to form such object relationships. As a child’s personality is formed, unhealthy object relations may arise, as the child attempts to adapt to a challenging environment. The goal of object relations psychotherapy is to uncover unhealthy relations formed during childhood, and to help the individual relinquish them and create new object-relations structures which foster a more healthy self-development.


Hersen, M., Sledge, W. H. (Eds.) (2002) Summers, F. Encyclopedia of Psychotherapy, Vol. 2 (pp. 235-244). New York: Academic Press