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Countertransference

  1. Charles J. Gelso

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0233

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Gelso, C. J. 2010. Countertransference. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. University of Maryland, College Park

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

Abstract

The topic of the therapist's countertransference to the client and the client's verbal and nonverbal behavior has been around since the very earliest days of the “talking cure” in the early twentieth century. This concept, however, has had a complex and unsteady history. For many years, it was viewed as something to be done away with, and its presence marked a treatment that was not going well. Perhaps because of this negative view, countertransference was avoided as a topic of study in the early years of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. During the past 25 years, however, there has been an upsurge of interest, and many studies have been conducted on countertransference. This increase has coincided with a broadened conception of countertransference as a process that may be highly beneficial to therapy or highly detrimental, depending on how and what the therapist does with his or her countertransference reactions. Epstein and Feiner (1979) maintain that these two themes, countertransference as a hinderance and countertransference as an aid to understanding, have been intertwined like a double helix throughout much of the history of therapy.

Keywords:

  • countertransference;
  • countertransference interaction hypothesis;
  • countertransference management;
  • therapist unresolved conflicts;
  • therapist self-insight