The Role of Internal Objects: Past, Present and Future

Weekend Overview


Bringing decades of clinical experience and a sophisticated knowledge of British object relations theory, Anne Alvarez will explore the role of internal objects as they manifest in  different states of mind. In a genuine and revealing examination of her own clinical work, and drawing upon infant research and neuroscience, Dr. Alvarez will address unrepresented, “empty” states of mind, in particular.

The conference will include lectures, case presentations, large and small group discussions.

Program Date(s):

February 28, 2020 - March 1, 2020
28 Feb
The Concept of the Internal Object
Some Defining Features
28 Feb
Levels of Analytic Work and Levels of Pathology
The Work of Calibration
29 Feb
Empty States
What Might Be Missing in the Internal Object?
29 Feb
Clinical Case Discussion
01 Mar
Future Perfect
Some Reflections on the Sense of Anticipation in Ordinary Infants and in Psychoanalytic Work


Full Conference Fee

$497 up to 21 days in advance; $517 thereafter

IPI Members: login with your member account to see discounted prices
(IPI full members: $359; associate members: $410).

Full time students: $150

Click here to Register

Continuing Education Credit Hours

Weekend Conference, February 28-March 1, 2020:

Approximately 14 credit hours

Saturday morning lecture & group discussion, 9-noon

2.5 credit hours

Educational Objectives

“Concept of the Internal Object”

Participants will be able to:

  1. List two reasons the concept of the internal object is important in understanding and working with patients.
  2. Describe one example from clinical experience of: a contoured, a semi-contoured and a non-contoured object.
  3. Discuss how serving as a “reclaiming or vitalizing object” might help repair a deficit or basic fault in a patient’s internal object.


“Empty States: What Might Be Missing in the Internal Object?”

Participants will be able to:

  1. Provide three clinical examples that indicate how an empty state of mind is manifested in a patient’s feelings, thoughts or behavior.
  2. Describe two alternative theoretical and technical approaches to working with the projective and introjective processes presented by autistic, psychopathic or perverse patients.
  3. Explain two ways in which infant research has contributed to our understanding of and approach to empty states of mind.


“Levels of Analytic Work and Levels of Pathology: The Work of Calibration”

Participants will be able to:

  1. Explain the three levels of analytic work described by Alvarez
  2. List the three corresponding levels of meaning to the above analytic work of Alvarez
  3. Write one clinical example of an analyst or therapist demonstrating “reclamation” in a countertransference response to a patient.

 “Future Perfect”

Participants will be able to:

  1. Describe one clinical illustration of what Alvarez calls the therapist offering an “invitatory function” which offers the patient the possibility of an “anticipatory identification”.
  2. Describe one clinical technique that can be used “to enlarge on something” by introducing an object relations perspective.
  3. Provide one clinical example in which Bion’s concept of a patient’s alpha functioning would be impaired.

Anne Alvarez, Ph.D. MACP

Anne Alvarez, PhD, M.A.C.P is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist (and retired Co-Convener of the Autism Service, Child and Family Dept. Tavistock Clinic, London, where she still teaches.). She is author of Live Company: Psychotherapy with Autistic, Borderline, Deprived and Abused Children, and has edited with Susan Reid, Autism and Personality: Findings from the Tavistock Autism Workshop. A book in her honour, edited by Judith Edwards, entitled Being Alive: Building on the Work of Anne Alvarez was published in 2002. She was Visiting Professor at the San Francisco Psychoanalytic Society in November 2005 and is an Honorary Member of the Psychoanalytic Centre of California. Her latest book, The Thinking Heart: Three Levels of Psychoanalytic Therapy with Disturbed Childrenwas published in April 2012 by Routledge.

Continuing Education Information

The International Psychotherapy Institute, IPI, is approved by The American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. IPI maintains responsibility for the program and its content. The International Psychotherapy Institute has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6017. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. The International Psychotherapy Institute is responsible for all aspects of the programs. The International Psychotherapy Institute is authorized by the Board of Social Work Examiners in Maryland to sponsor social work continuing education learning activities and maintains full responsibility for this program. This training qualifies for Category I continuing education units. The International Psychotherapy Institute is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0299.

Participants are responsible for verifying that IPI CE credit is accepted by the licensing boards in their own states.