Transference Focused Psychotherapy

Transference-Focused Psychotherapy (TFP) is based on a psychodynamic model of understanding and treating Borderline Personality Disorder and other personality disorders. TFP is an empirically validated psychotherapy with the primary focus on the therapeutic relationship to significantly modify the individual’s personality and increase their capacity for a full emotional life with others, to work toward professional ideals and a rich social life, and capacity for mutual dependency in intimate and love relations.

TFP is based on contemporary object relations theory (ORT) and informed by neurocognitive and attachment research. The treatment is conducted twice-weekly and combines elements of standard psychodynamic technique with a higher level of therapist activity. Particular attention is given to the patient’s external as well as internal life, and a set of mutually agreed upon behavioral parameters are designed to control symptoms, limit the expression of destructive behaviours, and foster the full unfolding of the patient’s emotional experience and psychological life. This is carried out in the process by which internalized relationship patterns are reactivated in the relationship with the therapist.

Maladaptive mental representations of self and others subsume the behavioral and affective dysregulation that characterizes personality disorders. The goal of TFP is to foster more integrated and complex concepts of self and others through a reactivation in the treatment of the patient’s split, polarized internalized relationship patterns, associated extreme affects and coping mechanisms that characterize those with personality disorders. The overriding goal of TFP is to change the individual’s internalized self and other relationships that lead to the integration of more mature and flexible conceptions.

The hypothesized mechanism of change in TFP is the reactivation of these dissociated or maladaptive internalized relationship patterns and associated emotions in the safe and controlled therapeutic setting where they can be cognitively contained and explored through interpretation. The goal is the development of flexible, mature mental representations that are integrated and reorganized over the course of treatment into a coherent, stable sense of identity.