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Countertransference

Countertransference

After a therapy session during which a patient expressed frustration at his job, the therapist relates to these feelings at her own workplace. This feeling of countertransference, or emotional reaction of the therapist to the patient, may be affected by how the therapist hears the patient.
Which of the following is the most likely to exert such an influence on the therapist?

A. The patient’s transference to the therapist

B. The therapist’s conscious conflicts

C. The increased clarity of the therapist’s judgment

D. The developmental period of the therapist’s life

E. The lack of intensity of the transference

The correct response is option D: The developmental period of the therapist’s life.


Countertransference is the emotional reaction of the therapist to the patient. Historically, countertransference was limited in meaning to the therapist’s transference onto the patient.This was felt to be a response to the patient’s transference (option A).

Like all transferences, the therapist’s countertransference was the result of unconscious conflicts (option B); however, these unresolved conflicts were those of the therapists rather than those of the patient. This countertransference was thought to obscure the therapist’s judgment (option C) in conducting the therapy. Countertransference’s are many and varied. Often, they are the result of events occurring in the therapist’s life that may make him or her more sensitive to certain themes in the patient’s associations. The developmental period (option D) of the therapist’s life-involving issues of intimacy, achievement, or old age, for example – may also affect how the therapist hears the patient. Intense transferences (option E) all kinds of erotic, aggressive, devaluing, idealizing, and others – are ripe for serving as stimuli to awaken in the therapist elements of his or her own past

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