In 1910 Freud was the first who described about counter-transference in his Psychoanalytical theory. From my understanding of this phenomenon, it can be defined as:
“Countertransference is highly unconscious process in which a therapist’s emotions triggers by client during the session and therapist respond with countertransference. It consists of both feelings and associated thoughts.”
Countertransference can be demonstrated in four ways:
It may be occurred due to the therapist’s own unresolved issue and it can be harmful if not detected
Another reason is the therapist’s reaction to client’s maladaptive behavior (withdrawal or aggression etc.). It is helpful during the therapeutic sessions.
Moreover, if the therapist is over supportive, trying so much to a friend of client or duration of therapies is more than usual this type of countertransference is a threat to the therapeutic relationship. It is also known as Positive Countertransference.
In addition to this, sometimes therapists act oppositely about uncomfortable feeling in a negative way like rejecting or punishing even rude with the client this another cause of countertransference and it is known as negative countertransference.
A child comes to therapist who is suffering from depression and stress due to the sudden death of his father and the age of child is 10 years and his face is very similar with therapist’s son. Due to having similarity between them therapist become over supportive and protective for child. Therapist also has soft corner for the child. So here we can say that child’s emotions triggers therapist and he respond with countertransference. Interestingly this whole process is going unconsciously both the client and therapist are unaware of it.
How to manage Countertransference?
Here comes two important thing that can manage countertransference and also helpful for the therapist are Self Awareness and seeking supervision. Because awareness of countertransference is essential in growth as a therapist. Similarly, therapist first try his level best to control his feelings, also ask his self why he feels for client and try to take client as other clients but when he fails, he seeks supervision. Awareness is also come by seeking supervision of senior psychologist. Always remember such kind phenomenon can occur and consider them as normal but do not hesitate or fear to seek supervision. Supervision make the therapeutic sessions more effective and fruitful. In a problematic countertransference therapist can leave the client refer him to other psychologist just to maintain good therapeutic relationship.