Counter- Transference

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Karen A. Aubrey
MFCC/597 A- Internship A
June 25, 2011
Amber Hamilton

Counter-transference can be defined as the occurrence of unresolved personal feelings of the therapist that are projected unto his or her client. Sigmund Freud coined the term counter-transference in 1910, who viewed counter-transference as the result of the client influencing unconscious feelings of the therapist (Hayes, Gelso, & Hummel, 2011). Research and Common Counter-Transference Issues

Sigmund Freud believed that counter-transference was problematic and needed to be managed by the therapist. In his book entitled Future Prospects of Psychoanalytic Therapy, Freud stated that the therapist must learn to recognize this therapeutic occurrence in himself or herself to counteract counter-transference (Freud, 1910). Counter-transference was viewed negatively by the counseling and mental health communities for several decades. Marriage and family therapist were taught to view counter-transference as a prohibited or unacceptable occurrence. “It became something to be done away with, not something to be examined or even used beneficially. The good analyst was, in fact, thought to be capable of maintaining objectivity and keeping personal conflicts out of the therapeutic process” (Hayes et al., 2011, p. 88). It was not until the 1950s that therapist begin to recognize that counter-transference could be beneficial when properly recognized and dealt with in a therapeutic manner. Today counter-transference is viewed as any and all reactions that a therapist may encounter in relation to the client- therapist relationship and process. “All reactions are important, all should be studied and understood to legitimize counter-transference when viewed as an object of self-investigation for the theraptist” (Hayes et al., 2011). The foundation of any therapeutic relationship must be built on trust and respect in order to form a working alliance or collaborative partnership. Developing therapeutic goals requires the therapist and client to work collaboratively. This relationship or alliance process results in numerous emotions developing during the therapeutic process; counter-transference should be viewed has a natural and expected occurrence. The client-therapist relationship is a key component of psychotherapy and that it influences treatment outcome, it seems important to understand how this relationship can be fostered or damaged (Ligiero & Gelso, 2002). According to Ligiero and Gelso (2002), counter-transference is always a joint creation involving contributions from both therapist and client (p. 4). Counter-transference can be categorized into two types, subjective and objective. Subjective counter-transference is the result of unresolved conflicts or anxieties of the therapist. Objective counter-transference is the result of the therapist reaction to the maladaptive behavior of the client (Ligiero & Gelso, 2002). Occurrences of both subjective and objective counter- transference can both be detrimental to the therapeutic process if ignored or unaddressed. The therapist can respond positively or negatively to a client’s behavior. “Positive counter-transference behaviors are defined as behaviors that seem friendly or supportive toward clients, but still serves the needs of the therapist and while avoiding the issues of the client” (Ligiero & Gelso, 2002, p. 4). Positive responses include: over supporting, befriending, over self- disclosure, and over agreeing. These types of responses are often seen in cases with therapist who counsel children, women, and victims of crime or abuse. Responding to a client actions or behaviors by being extremely critical, retaliatory, rejecting or disrespecting the client are viewed as negative counter-transference behaviors. These negative responses are often reported by therapist who counsel clients of the opposite sex. The therapist defends against these...
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