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Explore British Object Relations Psychology

From the foundations of psychoanalytic psychology to present-day clinical practice

What is Object Relations?

British Object Relations is a branch of psychoanalytic theory that originated in the United Kingdom with analysts such as Melanie Klein and Donald Winnicott. It is based on the understanding that human emotional and mental development is fundamentally influenced by early experience, particularly by the quality of the relationship with primary caregivers (the first “objects”). British Object Relations explicates the presence of a rich internal world, starting in early infancy and continuing throughout life, which both mirrors early object relations and continues to profoundly affect a person’s experience and functioning in the world.

Psychoanalytic therapy within this tradition offers a way of understanding these early organizations and, through the therapeutic relationship, seeks to build the capacity for thinking about them that can help the patient “grow” a mind—enabling an empathic and effective ability to work with one’s own experience. In a simplified version, the theory of object relations understands that infants are born with a “primitive” way of organizing their mind, and that is through the relationship with their “objects”, mainly a mother (later a therapist in a maternal function) that they begin to form their mind in a way that is able to tolerate the outside world, and subsequently grow.

What is Center for Object Relations?

Founded in 1994 in Seattle, Washington, the Center for Object Relations began as a small group of clinicians who met regularly to study British Object Relations Theory. Over the years, that small group expanded and evolved.

Today, COR is a thriving community of lifelong learners from the Northwest and throughout the World, offering courses and quality continued education with a focus on clinical, experiential application of BOR theory.

COR welcomes you to join our classes, events, webinars, consult groups, or infant observation groups.

Our Values

Beginning as small group of 6 clinicians with a pressing curiosity and being mystified by British Object relations, they sought out supervision with psychoanalyst Austin Case, MD in 1985. Overall, COR began with the question of what to do with the primitive violence and tortured inner worlds of our most disturbed patients, and what that bring up in ourselves as clinicians.

COR’s mission is to extend to the broader community an awareness, knowledge, use and understanding of the British Object Relations view of (1) child development, (2) the resulting internal world in every human being, and (3) its expression in human relationships.

Center for Object Relations is a community of learners – graduate students, psychotherapists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, or anyone in the community who has an interest in British Object Relations. There are those who have just heard of British Object Relations and want to learn more, and practitioners who have extensive experience with BOR psychoanalysis. We have something to offer everyone.

It is very important to be aware that you may never be satisfied with your analytic career if you feel that you are restricted to what is narrowly called a ‘scientific’ approach. You will have to be able to have a chance of feeling that the interpretation you give is a beautiful one, or that you get a beautiful response from the patient. This aesthetic element of beauty makes a very difficult situation tolerable.

Wilfred Bion, A Seminar Held in Paris

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Honoring Morry Tolmach

A deeply involved member of COR since its beginning, Morry Tolmach was influential in encouraging the growth and involvement of younger generations of therapists in psychoanalysis, teaching classes and supervising. If you would like to honor the passing of Morry, he asked that all donations in his remembrance be made to the Center for Object Relations.