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Transference-Focused Psychotherapy (TFP)

Transference-Focused Psychotherapy (TFP) is a form of psychotherapy that is based upon the principles of Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, and which was developed principally for treating Borderline Personality Disorder.

It sees the core problem of Borderline Personality Disorder as being a difficulty for these individuals to tolerate and accept some of their basic thoughts and feelings, especially those having to do with rage and aggressivity [ref]. To cope with these overwhelming emotions, their minds will push these thoughts and feelings out of consciousness, but in the process there will be a whole part of these individuals' personalities that will also get split-off. This will make it difficult for these people to have an integrated and coherent sense of themselves, and it also makes it difficult for them to understand other people's intentions and to know when and how to trust others.

The goal of TFP is thus to help these individuals develop a more integrated sense of themselves and of others by being able to acknowledge and tolerate the various parts of their personalities, including the parts that feel overwhelming [ref]. TFP sees the therapeutic relationship that develops between the client and therapist as the vehicle for achieving this goal. This therapeutic relationship becomes a safe haven for the client to be able to explore and express the various parts of their personalities in a context that is nonjudgmental, but also one where the therapist maintains a clear and consistent framework. Inevitably, the client will begin to relate to their therapist in such a way that all of their insecurities, and the various split-off parts of their personalities, come into play. This process is called transference. The therapist's role will be, first and foremost, to tolerate these emotionally-charged transferences in a supportive, consistent and and capable way. The therapist will also point out to the client how they are coming across, so that the client can begin to develop an awareness of their feelings and behaviors. With time, this therapeutic framework will allow the client to become more familiar, tolerant and in control of the various parts of their personalities.