According to psychodynamic theorists, people schematically internalize the treatment that they receive from early caregivers as introjects. The nature of such introjects is manifested in how
individuals view and treat themselves today. Introjects are subject to further development and modification across the lifespan.
These theorists further emphasize how the introjects of psychotherapists can have a powerful impact on the outcome of therapy. Strupp & colleagues (Henry, Schacht, & Strupp, 1990) have found direct clinical evidence to indicate that the introjects internalized by therapists have a direct bearing on the ways in which they treat their clients as well as on treatment outcome itself. Specifically, those therapists whose introjects are self-accepting and self-nurturing are more likely to engage their clients acceptingly and supportively. By contrast, therapists with hostile introjects tend to be more critical, blaming and neglectful of their clients. Moreover, clients whose introjects revealed marked improvements at the end of therapy were found to have engaged in therapeutic interactions virtually devoid of „disaffiliative“ (negative, critical, hostile) therapist behaviours. By contrast, those clients showing no positive introject change had their negative introjects reinforced through their therapist’s subtly hostile blaming, controlling and ignoring behaviours.
Dr. Mervin Smucker is an international trauma consultant and author of numerous articles and books on trauma and cognitive-behavioural therapy interventions.