The object relations and the therapeutic alliance: An empirical study
Feldman, Denis Marc
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This study was designed to investigate the relationship between two important concepts of psychoanalytic theory and practice: the therapeutic alliance and the object relations perspective. The primary hypothesis of the study was that the level of the patient's object representations would be related to the strength of the alliance between the therapist and the patient.;The literature review focused on the theoretical concepts and empirical research findings for the object relations theory and the therapeutic, or working, alliance.;Each of the 15 subjects in the study was administered two object relations measures: the Object Representation Scale for the Rorschach and the Therapist Representation Inventory. Then, following each of their next four psychotherapy sessions in the third month of their treatment, both the patients and their therapists completed Therapy Session Reports, comprehensive checklists regarding the content, process and progress of that session.;Positive correlations were found between the Object Representation Scale for the Rorschach Measure and the Patient Alliance Scale. A statistically significant finding was also found for the relationship between the Therapist Representation Inventory and the Therapist Alliance Scale. There was no significant finding for the Conjoint Alliance score, nor was there a significant relationship between the two object relations measures.;The findings partially supported the primary hypothesis of the study. It was found that the developmental level of the patients' object world, as measured by the Blatt scale for the Rorschach, correlated significantly with the self reported level of their alliance with the therapist. It was concluded that those patients with a well articulated and integrated sense of self and others were likely to perceive the therapeutic relationship as a positive collaboration, and conduct themselves in a manner conducive to furthering the work of psychotherapy. The discussion also focused on the special role that interactive human responses had in the measurement of object relations via the Rorschach method.;The findings of the study also raised questions regarding the Therapist Representation Inventory and the Therapeutic Alliance Scale for the Therapy Session Reports. These issues were discussed in detail. Limitations of the study, and suggestions for future research, were the final topics discussed.