Topic: A detailed case study of the brief psychotherapy of a college student with a narcissistic disturbance, discussed through the lens of relational psychoanalytic theory and including a description of important interventions.
Purpose: To promote greater understanding of psychoanalytic theory and therapy with a particular young adult population, and to underscore the importance of empathy and the therapeutic relationship to successful psychotherapeutic outcome.
Source: The author's own clinical practice.
Conclusions: The therapeutic alliance is fundamental to the psychotherapeutic change process. Empathy is not just a means to a better healing relationship; it is in itself healing. Accurate empathy within the therapeutic relationship is essential to developmental unfolding, especially where sustained, age-appropriate emotional responses to developmental needs were lacking and an integrated sense of self failed to develop.