Countertransference refers to the counselor’s conscious or unconscious emotional reactions to the patient. Jones-Smith (2019) defines this phenomenon “as any of a therapist’s projections that influence the manner in which they view and respond to a client” (p. 34). Unlike transference, which can result in both positive and negative outcomes, countertransference is always associated with an adverse impact on the therapy progress and the therapist-client relationship. Therefore, if I experience countertransference toward my newest client, I can address this problem in several ways.
To begin with, I should recognize the problem as soon as possible to avoid the harmful effect on the therapy. To be able to acknowledge my experience of countertransference, I need to be aware of the issue and potential triggers of emotional responses. For example, this problem can occur as a reaction to the client’s transference (Jones-Smith, 2019). In this case, I would try to identify the causes of my conscious or unconscious emotional involvement. Besides, I would pay attention to my client’s transference patterns and establish clear boundaries that support therapeutic goals. Another way of dealing with countertransference is seeking supervision or consulting other professionals about the problem and possible solutions (Jones-Smith, 2019). Other therapists’ experiences could be helpful in identifying the appropriate ways to handle countertransference.
Furthermore, I could seek therapy to address my own unresolved issues that contribute to unproductive or harmful behaviors in the client-therapist relationship. Finally, self-reflection is important for quality clinical work, while self-care is needed to prevent excessive stress, burnout, and fatigue that can trigger undesired emotional responses. Overall, countertransference can negatively impact the client’s therapeutic outcomes, and it is essential to recognize and address this problem as soon as possible.
Jones-Smith, E. (2019). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: An integrative approach (3rd ed.). Sage Publications.