Psychotherapy and Issues of Countertransference Chapter

  • Length: 2 pages
  • Sources: 2
  • Subject: Psychiatry
  • Type: Chapter
  • Paper: #30975976
  • Related Topics: Psychotherapy, Worldview

Excerpt from Chapter :

Countertransference occurs when a psychotherapist transfers or projects feelings onto a patient. This can be a problem because when it happens the therapist introduces a third party's (his own) emotional state into the life of the patient, who is attempting to understand his own feelings without the insertion of another's to complicate matters. However, it can also be useful according to some researchers who view forms of countertransference as useful, namely in the way that it tells the therapist something about the patient's feelings and about the therapist's own feelings (Malcolm, 1988). In this case, transference on the part of the patient can be met with countertransference on the part of the therapist in a manner that does not have to be viewed as dangerous so long as the therapist is aware of the role that he is playing in the transference-countertransference paradigm and uses it to draw attention to the patient's own tendency towards transference.

If it occurs in a way that the therapist however cannot control or is unaware of it can damage the patient-therapist relationship. Ways in which I might react that could be construed as countertransference would be to object to certain actions or avenues of thought by the patient because I personally would view them as wrong from my own perspective or worldview. The patient might be attempting to unconsciously draw me into an authoritarian role or that of a foil and if I am not careful I can allow this to happen. From my own perspective/worldview, I view life from a moral standpoint and view actions as having moral repercussions, but this might not be the case for every client and so I must see them from their own perspective in order to provide the best assistance and highest level of understanding. At the same time, I might respond to a difficult patient who is transferring his or her dislike of a parent or authority figure onto me. If I am not careful I can transfer my feelings towards my children who deliberately disobey in order to test me onto the patient. Such attitudes are typically an annoyance to me and I am quick to assert a kind of disciplinarian, straight-and-narrow approach that may be suitable in my own familial situation but can be detrimental in a therapist-patient relationship.

To address the issue of countertransference, I must always remain calm and objective and refrain…

Sources Used in Documents:


Malcom, J. (1988). Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession. NY: Random House.

Tarnopolsky, A. (1995). Teaching countertransference. Journal of Psychoanalysis,

3(2): 293-313.

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