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Matching Clients to Therapist

Based on Anaclitic and Introjective Dimensions

General Description

Blatt, Shahar, and Zuroff (2001) believe people's self-identity needs and relationship needs compete. In normal development, these needs are balanced, but in psychopathology, one or the other predominates. They define introjective patients as preoccupied with issues relating to their sense of self, self-worth, autonomy, and control. In contrast, anaclitic patients are overly focused on relationship issues such as intimacy, trust, and sexuality.

Relevance to Psychotherapy

In terms of psychotherapeutic differences, Blatt et al. found that anaclitic patients had better outcomes in psychotherapy than in psychoanalysis, while introjective patients had better outcomes in psychoanalysis than in psychotherapy. They proposed that introjective patients, who are concerned with separateness, prefer less direct interactions with their therapists, and anaclitic patients, who are concerned with relationships, prefer more direct interactions. In addition, they found that introjective patients, who tend to be perfectionistic and self-critical, have relatively more trouble developing relationships with their therapists, and tend to drop out of therapy prematurely. They recommended that therapists take more time and care developing therapeutic alliances with these patients.

In light of these findings, it was decided that the matching system should try to match introjective clients with therapists who are less direct and take more care and time in developing the therapeutic relationship. In addition, introjective clients should be matched to therapists who practice therapy that tends to be less time limited. Anaclitic clients should be matched to therapists who are more direct and openly friendly.

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Blatt, S. J., Shahar, G., & Zuroff, D. C. (2001). Anaclitic (sociotropic) and introjective (autonomous) dimensions. Psychotherapy, 30(4), 449-454.

Blatt, S. J., Shahar, G., & Zuroff, D. C. (2002). Anaclitic/sociotropic and introjective/autonomous dimensions. In J. C. Norcross (Ed.), Psychotherapy relationships that work: Therapist contributions and responsiveness to patients (pp. 315-333). New York: Oxford University Press.