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Object Relations Theory and Interpersonal Theory

Examine the theories of personality covered in the readings. Choose two and analyze the strengths and limitations of the theories. Compare and contrast them in relationship to:

- Basic or underlying assumptions
- Deterministic versus free will
- Awareness of self (e.g., conscious versus unconscious motives for behavior)

I have chosen Object Relations Theory and Interpersonal Theory. Can you help me understand the strengths and limitations as well as the comparisons and the contrasts of these two theories?

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Student,

Thank you for choosing me to help you with this problem. In looking at the two theories you have presented, they are quite different. I have recently done some work with Object Relations Theory (ORT) and am familiar with Interpersonal Theory, so I will help you look at these in the three categories you discuss including: Basic or underlying assumptions, deterministic versus free will, and awareness of self. I will discuss each of these theories in regards to those topics and help you understand the strengths and limitations of both ORT and Interpersonal Theory as well.

ORT:

ORT is interesting in that it is derived from older, psychoanalytic approaches. In working with ORT, a clinician is concerned with relationships and the awareness of self in regards to the client and themselves, the clinician. For example, the clinician nurtures the relationship between them and the client and serves as the "object" of that person's situation. Perhaps the client is addressing abuse from their childhood - the clinician would act as the object (the abuser) to that client (without the client knowing) in hopes of helping the client come to terms with their feelings and them "self" in their growth and transcendence through the issue at hand. In doing this, the client is afforded the opportunity to "re-live" (not really, but in retrospect) their experience and learn how to move through the feelings associated with their issue. The clinician must take careful steps to insure the client is not aware of the relationship they have created for the client and be aware of their own self concept through the process - a very delicate situation.

In all reality, many clinicians do not use the ORT approach as it is very psychoanalytical in nature and not well-received by the helping professions, because it is difficult to grasp. An excellent book to read about this topic was recently written by Goldstein, Miehls, and Ringel (2009) titled Advanced Clinical Social Work Practice: Relational Principles and Techniques.

ORT uses all of the same tenets of psychotherapy as other theories, ie. assessment, evaluation, reassessment, treatment plans, etc. but the major focus point of ORT is the awareness of self, use of the object, and employing the transference and counter transference techniques properly. In discussing, more in-depth, the strengths of ORT, I want to direct you to the book I have read that I cited above. The authors present some very beautiful phrases that I would like to pass on to you (and I can't think of any more eloquent way to say what they have said)...

"Many of these clients [who were exposed to early experiences of deprivation, indifference, neglect, abuse, trauma, and other ...

Solution Summary

In looking at the two theories presented, they are quite different. I have recently done some work with Object Relations Theory (ORT) and am familiar with Interpersonal Theory, so I will help you look at these in the three categories you discuss including: Basic or underlying assumptions, deterministic versus free will, and awareness of self. I will discuss each of these theories in regards to those topics and help you understand the strengths and limitations of both ORT and Interpersonal Theory as well.

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