Countertransference and Transference on Psychoanalytic Theory

What are some specific topic areas that have the potential to trigger countertransference for you?

            Countertransference is frequently encountered within a standard psychotherapeutic setting where therapists unsuspectingly respond and react to emotions and feelings projected by their respective clients. According to Wheeler & Smith (2017), countertransference is characterized by intense and unconscious feelings which develop among therapists and are subsequently projected towards their respective clients often in frequent scenarios where patients are resistant to recommended changes. Therefore, some of the main potential triggers for countertransference include patients’ indifference to expert advice provided by healthcare providers or outright defiance to suggestions. Healthy patient-physician relationships are often recommended to prevent the likelihood of unconscious countertransference by setting well-defined boundaries and improving situational awareness. Psychological problems, mystical concerns, and emotional issues remain possible countertransference triggers commonly encountered today among practicing therapists.

How can you identify your triggers and potential reactions to manage your own countertransference as a therapist?

Today, therapists must remain conscious of the likelihood of encountering countertransference within a therapeutic setting. They should, therefore, always make every effort to identify potential triggers and appropriate reactions to help manage scenarios of this kind when encountered. Potential countertransference triggers can be identified in a clinical setting by continually improving provider’s mental health knowledge and their ability to recognize cues consistent with the phenomenon (McDougall, 2018). Moreover, therapists should also be aware of personal psychological, and emotional issues known to trigger countertransference among mental health experts. Nevertheless, a potential reaction to countertransference may entail requesting supervision or peer support from colleagues within the healthcare facility when triggered to promote objectivity during therapy. Continuous self-reflection and setting clear boundaries also improve awareness of countertransference while making it increasing the overall likelihood of setting clear boundaries.

In psychoanalytic theory, how is transference and countertransference defined? Please include references

            The terms “transference” and “countertransference” are frequently used in reference to unhealthy patient-physician interactions during routine therapy sessions and are often associated with the psychoanalytic theory. Hinshelwood (2018) defines transference as a situation where patients unknowingly channel their feelings about individuals from their past onto their respective therapists. This results in profound, intense, and unconscious emotions towards the resident therapist and may, ultimately, impair the patient’s perception of reality.  It manifests as either positive, negative, sexualized, paternal, maternal, sibling, or non-familial transference.

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On the other hand, countertransference refers to the therapist’s response to the client’s emotional projections within the context of a therapeutic setting. According to Wheeler & Smith (2017), the most common response to countertransference observed among leading psychotherapists involves redirecting emergent feelings and the emotional entanglement evident from their interaction with the client. Countertransference is known to weaken a therapist’s professional impartiality and detachment during therapy sessions and remains a major concern in psychotherapy since it may deter progress.

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