Is the Scientology of Psychiatrics?
June 2, 2008 9:28 AM   Subscribe

I need affordable therapy in the NYC area and came across this website. Has anyone had any luck with Object Relations Therapy?

I need therapy, not urgently, but sooner rather than later. I don't have health insurance, am on a tight budget, and have seen the charitable but burnt-out social workers/counselors, to no avail. I felt like they were thinking, "Well, at least you're not a cracked-out schizoid homeless person like my last guy." I've been worried about the cost of bouncing around various therapists before I click with one, and this site appealed to me because they offer a free consultation before sending me off to someone within my price range who specializes in my needs.

But: object relations therapy? The info I found suggests it's very rooted in Freudianism, positing that our adult selves are determined by our very early years. I absolutely have some issues that stem from my childhood that I'd like to iron out, but I have other compelling problems in my life that are contemporary (as far as I can tell). I also don't want pay good money to just discuss mom and dad when I'm also considering a big move, am dissatisfied with my job, suffer from writer's block, etc.

Has anyone tried this kind of therapy? Is this a crazy off-shoot or a pretty standard practice? I'd really appreciate anyone's take on the issue.
posted by zoomorphic to Health & Fitness (3 answers total)
It is difficult to say whether this therapy is right for you without much more detail of the specific issues - which I guess is not right for discussion here.

What can be said is that this is an accepted part of core psychodynamic theory and is certainly not on the periphery or in anyway associated with quackery (when practised correctly). Most Psychoanalysts would tell you that this, along with Bowlby's Attachment theory, are extremely useful in assisting many clients.
posted by Blacksun at 9:41 AM on June 2, 2008

Object Relations is indeed an offshoot of Freudian psychoanalysis. It has its origins in the works of Melanie Klein in England. It's not so much a "brand" of therapy, as much as it consists of a focus on developmental issues. The people who were interested in Object Relations tended to focus on infancy and very early childhood and applied their understanding of instincts and drives to try to conceptualize what the experiences of infants were. A lot of Klein's focus was on aggressive drives and how infants handle them through primitive defence mechanisms. I should say that the way practitoners back then understood instincts is pretty primitive by contemporary standards (e.g., the death instinct), so some of the early writing needs to be thought about in the context of the state of scientific knowledge in the early 20th century. Bowlby updated a lot of OR's thinking about instincts with more current views in his monumental works on attachment, loss, and separation.

Subsequent practitioners who were influenced by OR theory include the great pediatrician DW Winnicott, Bion, and contemporary luminary Otto Kernberg. Chances are that if you're in New York City and you find a psychoanalytic therapist, you'll be seeing someone who was influenced by Object Relations theory, as Kernberg has been a *very* important figure in the NY Psychoanalytic scene.

As with any therapy, you should make sure your therapist knows that you want more than exploration - that you're interested in getting help with some real world issues. Be sure to be a health care consumer and hold the therapist accountable if you feel you're not making the progress you feel you should be making.
posted by jasper411 at 10:58 AM on June 2, 2008

Thanks, both of you, and thanks to the people who messaged me privately. Everyone was really helpful.
posted by zoomorphic at 1:28 PM on June 2, 2008

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