Using an adaptation of theCountertransference Factors Inventory (CFI) designed for the previouslymentioned studies, 48 beginning therapists (34 women, 14 men) rated 50statements as to their value in managing countertransference. Together, thesestatements make up subscales representing the five countertransferencemanagement factors. Beginners rated the factors similarly to experts, both ratingself-insight and self-integration highest. In looking at the personal characteristicswhich might influence one’s rating of the factors, males and females ratedself-insight and self-integration highest. As months in personal and/or grouppsychotherapy went up, the factors’ ratings went down, and an even strongernegative correlation was found with age. Generally, beginners rated the factorshigher than the experts.
Beginners who are older and/or have had more therapyrated the factors more like the experts. The word countertransference was coined by Sigmund Freud in approxirnately theyear 1901, at the dawning of psychoanalysis. In classical psychoanalysis,transference was seen as a distortion in the therapeutic relationship which occurredwhen the client unconsciously misperceived the therapist as having personalitycharacteristics similar to someone in his/her past, while countertransferencereferred to the analyst’s unconscious, neurotic reaction to the patient’s transference(Freud, 1910/1959). Freud believed that countertransference impedes therapy, andthat the analyst must recognize his/her countertransference in order to overcome it. In recent years, some schools of psychotherapy have expanded the definition ofcountertransference to include all conscious and unconscious feelings or attitudesa therapists has toward a client, holding that countertransference feelings arepotentially beneficial to treatment (Singer & Luborsky, 1977). Using more specificlanguage, Corey (1991) defines countertransference as the process of seeingoneself in the client, of overidentifying with the client or of meeting needs throughCommon to all definitions of this construct is the belief that countertransferencemust be regulated or managed.
If unregulated, a therapist’s blind spots may limithis/her therapeutic effectiveness by allowing clients to touch the therapist’s ownunresolved areas, resulting in conflictual and irrational reactions. With greaterawareness of the motivating forces behind one’s own thoughts, feelings andbehaviors, the therapist is less likely to distort the therapeutic relationship. Indeed, because countertransference originates in the unconscious, the morethe therapist is able to bring into conscious awareness that which washidden in the unconscious, the less he will find that his patient’s materialstimulates countertransference reactions. (Hayes, Gelso, Van Wagoner &Nonfacilitative countertransference is not just the passive act of misperception. Itoccurs when, as a result of the misperception, the therapist’s response to the clientis based on his/her own need or issue rather than that of the client. Countertransference is an important issue for all therapists.
Beginning therapistsoften address the issue in class sessions, groups and supervision, as well as inimpromptu discussions. Generally, no therapist wants his/her unresolved issues tocloud the therapeutic process. Being in personal therapy and supervision are twoways a therapist can bring issues to conscious awareness and deal withcountertransference (Fromm Reichmann, 1950; Gelso & Carter, 1985; Heimann,1950; Reich, 1960), but are there other ways? Are there specific personalcharacteristics which enable the therapist to deal successfully withAlthough little theory and research address these issues, Hayes, et al. (1991) andVan Wagoner, Gelso, Hayes and Diemer (1991) studied the personalcharacteristics that therapists believe assist them in the management ofcountertransference.
The five therapist qualities theorized to assist the effectivemanagement of countertransference were (I) anxiety management, (2)conceptualizing skills, (3) empathic ability, (4) self-insight and (5) self-integration. Using these studies as an anchor, this study looks at how beginning therapists ratethe effectiveness of the five qualities in helping them manage countertransference,and it explores whether gender, age and months in individual and/or groupBibliography: .