Transference focused psychotherapy
Transference-Focused Therapy (TFP)
Transference is the phenomenon that occurs when an individual projects emotions or expectations onto their therapist in a therapeutic condition. This usually occurs unconsciously and is generally overlooked unless it interferes with the therapeutic procedure and hence the progress. TFP, although, assumes transference is a normal, necessary and expected part of psychotherapy, and employs it to break down destructive behavioral patterns.
What to expect?
TFP is founded on a twice-weekly treatment approach that makes use of object relations theory to shift and improve ingrained behavioral patterns that might be maladaptive and hence unhealthy. Object relations theory purports that humans are motivated by social interaction and relationships with other humans and not by solely sex or aggression. By looking at behaviors from the standpoint that all people fundamentally desires to improve relations with others, therapists focus onto the way in which someone can make lasting change, rather than on their perceived pathologies.
TFP encourages the person taking up the therapy to take up responsibility of their own actions and behaviors through the understanding that while the diagnosis of a personality disorder might take lifetime, the way in which a person copes with related symptoms and interacts with others can change and improve. This happens when a person successfully identifies and be the cause of shifts in their emotional state or interactive approach and is given the opportunity to make other choices.
How does it work?
As the therapy is initiated, the therapist begin with working upon the individual to establish informed consent. Since TFP is a unique therapeutic method which generally involves a more active approach from the psychotherapists compared to other forms of talk therapy, it is especially important an individual beginning TFP is finds a zone of control with their therapist.
TFP occurs in two stages, these stages sometimes overlaps and are knitted together to produce the desired outcome:
- Forming a bond in a way that it establishes trust. The treatment structure that will guide future sessions, and boundaries that is usually specific to a person’s maladaptive behaviour.
- Then on the individual’s mind is explored and revisited to understand their emotions, sense of identity, and recurring behavioral patterns.
When is it used?
TFP have successfully reduced common symptoms of BPD, like impulsivity, irritability, anger, and self-harm, lowered anxiety and depressive symptoms, improved emotional regulation, reduced suicidal ideation and improved social interactions.
Some preliminary research have supported the employment of TFP for other mental health considerations like that of narcissism. Because narcissism and borderline sometimes shares some traits related to social interactions, TFP therefore might be effectively applied to identifying similar patterns in individuals with narcissism.
Role of therapist:
A transference-focused therapist is expected to verbally identify, or ask the person undergoing the therapy to identify, instances of their behavior that are happening during in the course of a therapy session. By probing at those problematic interactions immediately as they occur, both therapist and client can better able to recognize and develop positive alternatives to destructive or potentially maladaptive behavior as it is executed.
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3. Doering, S., Hörz, S., Rentrop, M., Fischer-Kern, M., Schuster, P., Benecke, C., ... & Buchheim, P. (2010). Transference-focused psychotherapy v. treatment by community psychotherapists for borderline personality disorder: randomised controlled trial. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 196(5), 389-395. trial/0F703220DA3A6669FC6B3C5B0433FA4B