Encyclopedia of Couple and Family Therapy

2019 Edition
| Editors: Jay L. Lebow, Anthony L. Chambers, Douglas C. Breunlin

Object Relations Family Therapy

  • Jill Savege ScharffEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-49425-8_35

Name of Model

Object relations family therapy


Object relations couple and family therapy; Psychoanalytic family therapy; Psychodynamic family therapy


Object relations family therapy is a group analytic approach to understanding the conscious and unconscious patterns of interaction in a family with a view to relieving the burden on the identified client and giving the family greater insight and flexibility in charting its course through life.

Prominent Associated Figures

The term object relations family therapy was coined by David E. Scharff and Jill Savege Scharff in 1987 to reflect their emphasis on the use of Fairbairn’s object relations theory as the main building block for their psychoanalytic approach to family therapy (Scharff and Scharff 1987). They were influenced by the teaching of Henry Dicks and Arthur Hyatt Williams at the Tavistock Centre in London and by the writing and teaching of Roger Shapiro and John Zinner who collaborated with Edward Shapiro...

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  1. Scharff, J. S. (1989). Foundations of object relations family therapy. Northvale: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  2. Scharff, D. E., & Scharff, J. S. (1987). Object relations family therapy. Northvale: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  3. Scharff, J. S., & Scharff, D. E. (2005). Object-relations and psychodynamic approaches to couple and family therapy. In T. L. Sexton, G. R. Weeks, & M. S. Robbins (Eds.), Handbook of family therapy: The science and practice of working with families and couples (pp. 66–92). Hove: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Scharff, J. S., & Scharff, D. E. (2006). New paradigms in treating relationships. Lanham: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar
  5. Slipp, S. (1988). Theory and technique of object relations family therapy. Northvale: Jason Aronson.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Psychotherapy InstituteChevy ChaseUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Molly Gasbarrini
    • 1
  1. 1.California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International UniversityLos AngelesUSA