History of ISTFP

Transference-Focused Psychotherapy (TFP) was developed by Otto F. Kernberg during the 1970s and 1980s at the Cornell University, New York. His books Borderline Conditions and Pathological Narcissism (1975) and Severe Personality Disorders (1984) preceded the first treatment manual Psychodynamic Psychotherapy of Borderline Patients (Kernberg et al. 1989). As a reaction to this completely new approach towards the treatment of borderline patients, Otto F. Kernberg and his colleagues were invited to give lectures and training courses for TFP in North America, Latin America, and Europe. Numerous local and national TFP groups emerged from the trainings, particularly from the supervision groups. Very often the members of the first regional TFP groups were invited by colleagues to provide training courses all over their countries. Comprehensive TFP curricula were developed and numerous physicians and psychotherapists became profoundly educated TFP therapists and later on supervisors.

Particular regional groups in New York, Mexico, Amsterdam, Munich, and Vienna – mostly associated to Medical Schools or Universities – developed an interest in empirical research on TFP. These research activities lead to three randomized-controlled trials on the efficacy of TFP for borderline patients. Once, TFP received the status of an empirically validated treatment, the interest among clinicians and researchers all over the world increased tremendously. Otto F. Kernberg and his colleagues, but also TFP trainers and supervisors from other countries, are now travelling around the world to present research findings on international conferences and to give training courses. Two international TFP conferences were held in New York in 2008 and Berlin 2010. Regional and national TFP groups or societies have been founded in 14 countries so far: USA, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, UK, Denmark, The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.

At the 2010 TFP conference in Berlin, the idea was discussed to create an International Society that connects the regional and national groups and concentrates the manifold activities in the development, research, and training of TFP. The idea was received enthusiastically and a Task Force for the foundation of an International Society was nominated. This group of researchers and clinicians from six countries met in January 2011 in Vienna, Austria.


The Task Force for the Foundation of the International Society of Transference-Focused Psychotherapy, Vienna, January 11, 2011. From the left: Andrés Borzutzky (Santiago, Chile), Marianne Buchheim (Munich, Germany), George Brownstone (Vienna, Austria), Audrey Clarkin (New York, USA), John Clarkin (New York, USA), Karin Ensink (Quebéc, Canada), Sergio Dazzi (Parma, Italy), Peter Schuster (Vienna, Austria), Stephan Doering (Vienna, Austria), Otto Kernberg (New York, USA), Pamela Foelsch (New York, USA), Nel Draijer (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Melitta Fischer-Kern (Vienna, Austria), Frank Yeomans (New York, USA), Peter Buchheim (Munich, Germany), and Lina Normandin (Quebéc, Canada).

On September 10/11, 2011 the Inauguration Conference of the ISTFP took place in New York with approximately 150 participants from 15 countries. The inauguration assembly voted for an Executive Board of eight persons: Otto F. Kernberg (President), Stephan Doering (Vice President and Executive Officer), Melitta Fischer-Kern (Treasurer), John F. Clarkin (Coordinator for research and scientific issues), Frank E. Yeomans (Coordinator for training and certification issues), Lina Normandin, Nel Draijer, and Peter Buchheim.
On October 27, 2011 the International Society of Transference-Focused Psychotherapy (ISTFP) was officially registered at the Austrian Authorities with its seat in Vienna.
The Executive Board nominated chairs of six standing committees: John F. Clarkin (Research and Publication Committee), Frank E. Yeomans (Training and Education Committee), Andrés Borzutzky (Public Relations Committee), George Brownstone (Ethics Committee), Pamela Foelsch (Adolescent TFP Committee), and Peter Buchheim (Inpatient TFP and Psychiatric Services Committee).
The ISTFP website and the logo were created, and the 2nd International ISTFP Conference was prepared to take place on September 29/30, 2012 in Amsterdam.
On May 22, 2012, ISTFP has 179 members from 14 countries.