Interpersonal defense theory: An integration of philosophical considerations, psychoanalytic concepts, and perspectives on interpersonal processes that provides a guide for a wide range of therapeutic interventions

Michael A. Westerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Interpersonal defense theory (e.g., Westerman & de Roten, 2017; Westerman & Steen, 2009) is an interpersonal reconceptualization of defense processes. This article has two objectives. The first goal is to explain the integrative nature of the theory. One aspect of the theory's integrative nature is that it draws upon ideas from a diverse set of guiding influences, including psychoanalysis, perspectives on interpersonal processes, and, most notably, the participatory philosophical perspective (e.g., Westerman, 2013, 2014). The theory also is integrative in that its development has involved bringing together theoretical considerations and empirical research efforts, including studies that employed a variety of methods. The second goal is to discuss implications of the theory for therapy. Several points about treatment implications are presented that follow from unique features of case formulations based on interpersonal defense theory. Some of those implications include suggestions about how therapists can most effectively contribute to therapy relationship processes. Another implication overlaps with the first goal, providing a third respect in which the theory is integrative: Interpersonal defense theory is inclusive when it comes to a wide range of types of therapeutic interventions. Discussion of this point includes considerations about the effective use of interpretations as well as other interventions such as modifying cognitions and doing chair work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-328
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Psychotherapy Integration
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2018

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Keywords

  • case formulation
  • interpersonal defense theory
  • participatory philosophical perspective
  • psychotherapy integration
  • therapeutic relationship processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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