Transference-focused psychotherapy: Structural diagnosis as the basis for case formulation

Kenneth N. Levy, Yogev Kivity, Frank E. Yeomans

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Citations (SciVal)


Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) is a psychodynamic, empirically supported psychotherapy for personality disorders based on Otto Kernberg’s object relations theory. Case formulation and treatment planning in TFP is based on the patient’s level of personality organization (i.e., capacity for reality testing, predominant defence mechanisms, and consolidation of identity) as assessed at the beginning of treatment using the structural interview. Following a brief overview of object relations theory, we provide detailed description of the structural interview, which consists of assessment of the patient’s: main presenting symptoms, pathological personality traits, identity consolidation, and mental status. Guiding principles for determining the patient’s level of personality organization (‘structural diagnosis’) are provided as well as an illustrative case example. We conclude by reviewing the empirical support for the structural interview, and for its semistructured version, the Structured Interview of Personality Organization (STIPO) showing evidence for the reliability and validity of structural diagnoses derived from these interviews.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCase Formulation for Personality Disorders
Subtitle of host publicationTailoring Psychotherapy to the Individual Client
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780128135211
ISBN (Print)9780128136126
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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