Borderline Disorder of the Self: The Masterson Approach

General information about the course.

Please read the document carefully. We will host an introductory orientation day to the course on 02 March 2019 where you can ask further questions.

1. AIM

The aim of this presentation of the work of Dr. James F. Masterson, M.D. is to introduce Clinical Psychologists, Counseling Psychologists and Psychiatrists to an effective therapeutic approach to treating the unique, even explosive, world of the pre-oedipal patient. The suffering that goes hand in hand with the split object relations world of the Borderline Disorder of the Self poses a familiar challenge to those engaged in the helping professions. Dr. Masterson brings a unique perspective to the treatment of the Borderline Disorder of the Self — an orientation he calls a Developmental, Self and Object Relations Approach (DSOR). The course will provide the theoretical background and demonstrate the technical application of Dr. Masterson’s model. Students will receive a well thought-through curriculum that exposes you to Masterson’s work. This theoretical understanding will form the foundation from which therapeutic technique will be taught.

This course will aim to show, through clinical thinking and teaching, the importance of concepts such as:

  • Developmental and attachment theory of importance to the Borderline Disorder of the Self, such as separation/ individuation, traumatic attachment, abuse, etc.
  • Therapeutic confrontation of the maladaptive defenses (resistances that operate in service of the False Self).
  • Activation of the Real Self through the correct therapeutic interventions.
  • Transference acting-out and Countertransference acting-out.
  • The experience of Abandonment Depression and the pathological defenses used to avoid it.
  • The Borderline intrapsychic structure as represented by split object relation units formulated on feelings drawn from self-experience. That is, the rewarding unit based on the libidinal part of the split and the withdrawing unit on the anti-libidinal part.
  • The student will learn the clinical importance of tracking the triad – a dynamic pattern summarized as: “self-activation leads to abandonment depression, leads to defense.

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Lectures will take place in Cape Town at Vredekloof Clinic and at a pre-determined venue in Gauteng. This will be communicated at a later point.

Students will meet in person as a group with faculty members once or twice a month for three (3) modules per contact session. The lecturing time will be 5 hours for that day. Students will all receive the course reading-lists prior to the start of lectures and will be expected to come to class prepared for discussion. In addition, the student is expected to submit in advance of class a short personal interpretation of the articles/chapters allocated for that module.

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The three modules consist of:

  1. The basic theoretical and therapeutic assumptions as postulated by Dr. James F. Masterson, M.D. The day will start with two 60 minute lectures covering the the prescribe theoretical material.
  2. The 3rd period after tea will be used to discuss the clinical application of theoretical concepts using case material brought by students and/or the lecturer.
  3. Lastly, the Continuous Case Presentation will focus on an ongoing case brought by a student to the group for supervision and discussion. Students are required to obtain rightful and ethical permission from the patient before any discussion will take place.

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Each student will be expected to meet with a faculty member of the Masterson Institute, South Africa, for individual supervision. The course requirement will be a minimum of 10 individual supervision sessions over the course of the programme where the student presents his/her work with patients diagnosed with Borderline Disorder of the Self. The student will need to show an understanding in developing the technique in dealing with the defensive structure of the patient, and to be able to formulate a diagnosis based on the intra-psychic structure of the patient.

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Before receiving the certificate indicating completion of the course, the student will need to present a case to a panel consisting of members represented by the International Masterson Institute. The student will be expected to compose a paper (12 pages, 1.5 spacing) detailing the patient’s history, formulating a correct intrapsychic structure, offering verbatim passages from therapy sessions, and exploring aspects of countertransference. All this is intended to illustrate the student’s understanding and mastering of the Introduction to Psychotherapy of the Borderline Disorder of the Self: The Masterson Approach.

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Students are required to attend formal classes at the venues indicated.

Course Dates:

For Gauteng:

08:30 - 12:00Saturday 2 March 2019Orientation
08:30 – 14:30Saturday 16 March 20191
08:30 – 14:30Saturday 30 March 20192
08:30 – 14:30Saturday 13 April 20193
08:30 – 14:30Saturday 11 May 20194
08:30 – 14:30Saturday 25 May 20195
08:30 – 14:30Saturday 8 June 20196
TBDSaturday 06 July 2019Examination

For the Western Cape:

08:30 - 12:00Saturday 2 March 2019Orientation
08:30 – 14:30Saturday 30 March 20191
08:30 – 14:30Saturday 06 April 20192
08:30 – 14:30Saturday 04 May 20193
08:30 – 14:30Saturday 18 May 20194
08:30 – 14:30Saturday 01 June 20195
08:30 – 14:30Saturday 15 June 20196
TBDSaturday 13 July 2019Examination


Supervision is compulsory. Students will be allocated to a supervisor by the faculty. Supervision is not included in the course fee.

Reading material:

Students will be reading an average of 5 papers/chapters/articles for each class day.

Course Schedule

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Faculty contact details will be communicated to enrolled students. You can post questions on our discussion board. Others may have the same questions and collaborative learning is encouraged.

Our faculty members have all been trained and supervised by the faculty of the International Masterson Institute of New York over a period of three years. The faculty includes:

Candice Dumas, William Griffith, Sean Moorcroft, Gustaf Pretorius, Rani Prinsloo, JP Theron.


Students will not be allocated CPD points for classes not attended, nor summaries for class work not completed or not meeting the expected standard. No student will be allowed to participate in the final evaluation with less than an 90% record of class attendance.

Students are required to use the MISA online learning portal to submit summaries and interact with other candidates and lecturers.

Cost: Early registration: R6000

After 31 January 2019: R6500

Online Payment (Preferred)

Once you have registered online for the course, you will be provided with the option to pay via our online payment system.

Cash Deposit

If you prefer making a bank deposit, please use the details below.

Account: Masterson Institute South Africa
Bank: Standard Bank
Account Number: 3310203944
Routing Number: 05041041
Address: 309 Durban Road, Bellville, Western Cape
Proof of payment email: Your name and surname to


Please use your Last name/Surname and Initials as a reference when making your payment.
Please send proof of payment to:
You will receive confirmation of registration via email within one week of us receiving your proof of payment.


Cancellations sent in writing to before 16 February 2019 will incur a R250.00 admin fee. Thereafter, a cancellation fee of R500.00 will apply. The balance will be refunded.

Course Programme

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Presenters and attendees of all CPD activities must please note that the attainment of continuing education units (CEUs) does not licence any professional to practice outside their official scope of practice.  CEUs are intended to broaden the knowledge of professionals but do not constitute professional training.