Behavioral Activation in TFP: The Role of the Treatment Contract in Transference-Focused Psychotherapy

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Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP) is a manualized evidence-based treatment for borderline and other severe personality disorders that is based on psychoanalytic object relations theory. Similar to other psychodynamic psychotherapies, TFP focuses on changing psychological structures, but also focuses on symptom and behavioral change, particularly the importance of being active (e.g., obtaining a job or involvement in similar activities). In TFP, the establishment of the treatment contract, also known as the treatment frame, is where goals such as work and other activities are agreed upon. The focus on such activities is particularly relevant to the concept of behavioral activation. We provide a clinical vignette to illustrate how TFP utilizes behavioral activation in facilitating treatment outcome both at the behavioral level and at the psychological level.

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