The Case of Sharon Considered from the Vantage Point of Interpersonal Defense Theory


  • Michael A. Westerman



Interpersonal Defense Theory, coordination, case formulation, process models, therapy relationship processes, insight-oriented interventions, case study, clinical case study


As part of this project comparing analyses of the case of Sharon based on Interpersonal Defense Theory (e.g., Westerman, 2018, 2019) and Interpersonal Reconstructive Therapy (e.g., Benjamin & Critchfield, 2010), this paper considers the case from the vantage point of Interpersonal Defense Theory. The first half of the paper presents the theory’s novel approach to case formulation. It begins by explaining the kind of case formulations the Interpersonal Defense Theory calls for in general and then presents a formulation of Sharon’s case based on the theory, illustrating that formulation with an examination of a transcript of a session excerpt from her therapy. The second half of the paper discusses the theory’s implications for treatment, beginning with a presentation of its treatment implications in general and then turning to its specific implications for Sharon’s case. Overall, the paper shows that the theory sheds new light on how to understand Sharon’s problems, provides a possible explanation for why the treatment, which was based on Brief Adaptive Psychotherapy (Pollack, Flegenheimer, Kaufman, & Sadow, 1992), resulted in a poor outcome, and suggests a different therapeutic approach that might have been more successful.

Author Biography

Michael A. Westerman

Michael A. Westerman




How to Cite

Westerman, M. A. (2021). The Case of Sharon Considered from the Vantage Point of Interpersonal Defense Theory. Pragmatic Case Studies in Psychotherapy, 17(1), 19–41.



Contrasting Theoretical Analyses of the Case of “Sharon”