Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Winnicott, D. W. (Donald Woods), 1896-1971, Bowlby, John, Benjamin, Jessica, Attachment behavior, Psychotherapist and patient, Mother and child, Good enough mother, Good enough therapy, Good enough therapist, Good enough analyst, Attachment theory, Relational theory, Therapeutic relationship, Maternal relationship, Therapist as mother, Attachment relationship, Therapeutic alliance


This is a theoretical study in which Winnicott's ideas on the "good enough mother" are analyzed in search of implications for what makes a good enough therapist. Specifically these ideas are explored through the lenses of attachment theory and relational theory with a focus on the work of John Bowlby and Jessica Benjamin respectively. Particular attention is given to the roles of both therapists and mothers in "holding", emotional regulation, protection, and building emotionally facilitative and protective relationships. This paper includes in depth looks at these theories and the ways in which the concepts within attachment theory and relational theory (specifically the ideas of attachment relationships, subjectivity and intersubjectivity) both echo and expand upon Winnicott's work. This paper posits that the primary similarity found in all three theoretical standpoints is the significance of human connection and relationship in healthy emotional functioning. Additionally, the argument is made that the three theories are complementary to one another, and a more comprehensive understanding of individual development and psychology is gained from application of them in conjunction with one another, as opposed to applying the theories individually. The concepts discussed throughout the paper are explored via a case example in the final chapter.




iii, 110 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 105-110)