Study The Guilty Pleasure of Countertransference

Sideways

Moderator
Not to stop you opening another thread, because it's an interesting topic, but:
I still don’t understand how someone can do therapy without transference.
The T I saw before my current one recommended I see a female so there wouldn't be transference issues. My current T, I'm reasonably confident there's no transference.
to me therapy is about healing attachment patterns.
This may answer your question. Attachment issues aren't really something I'm working on in therapy. That's something that will vary from person to person, and I think will often reflect the type of traumatic experiences they've had.
 
I'm not sure, I clicked on this thinking 'projection'.

But:

Attachment issues aren't really something I'm working on in therapy. That's something that will vary from person to person, and I think will often reflect the type of traumatic experiences they've had.
this ^^ is something that I am intimately familiar with. Only JMHO, but I have found 'transference' caused me great harm. Or rather I would say, transference existed when I re-enacted my trauma at 18- 20's. I didn't realize any of this, but how could I? It was only 3 1/2 years after and I was fighting symptoms like putting out fires. By the time I realized in my 30's, I swore any and every relationship, acquaintanceship-up, would be based on 'now' and 'today'.

What I have found healing is forming healthy attachment (though terrifying and shifts or growth- trust- is sometimes by millimetres). 'Healthy' makes me recognize when I re-enact, or project, or melt down. Or simply realize I am falling apart and in a dangerous place from how unrelated things have affected me but I don't ~notice (denial?).

If this isn't helpful as always just disregard. Healing is possible, but I just personally would avoid re-enactments like the plague. It almost destroyed my life in my 20's. And personally, I just don't want any kind of vestige of it.

ETA, I guess 'we' ("I", anyway) can't re-write the ending, which is what tranference, projection and re-enactments are indicative of to me (JMHO though). But we can start a new book. 🤗🫂
 
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joeylittle

Administrator
Transference occurrence is a given, but whether the provider chooses to work with it, as a tool or reference, depends on their schooling and perspective which can be Freudian or non-Freudian. Is that accurate?
Basically, yes.

Freud is the person who named and defined transference, and so transference is an essential element within Freudian Psychoanalysis. Freud believed that source of all emotional conflict within an individual was a result of their ego-states being internally at war. This war of the ego states was fueled by the client's unconscious feelings and needs about/from figures in their life.

Freud believed that those unexpressed or unfulfilled feelings and needs could be transferred onto the analyst. Then, the analyst would have a unique perspective on the client's unconscious mind. This insight then gives the therapist a way of understanding (de-coding) the nature and meaning of those unconscious/subconscious feelings and needs, and then guide the client towards understanding and interpreting those feelings, which would give the client such a thorough understanding of their inner war of ego states, that they would be able to end the war and find peace within themselves. It's a full, complete examination and display (analysis) of the client's psyche (core self). That's a really abbreviated version of what makes 'psyche'+'analysis', Psychoanalysis, as defined by Freud.

Transference allows for everything the client doesn't know about themselves to be given to the analyst. It's why freudian psychoanalysis is very 'hands off', as far as guiding the client goes - because the unconscious/subconscious needs to be given free rein in order to reveal itself.

Counter-transference is the feelings that are stirred up inside the analyst when they have become the object of transference. The analyst uses their own feelings about the transference (counter transference) to reveal to them something about themselves, which they can then also use as information to better understand the client. Psychoanalysts have to go through their own analysis process in order to receive and recognize counter-transference in a clinical setting.

These are how Freud defined the terms - and he invented the terms, so when a Freudian psychoanalyst uses the terms, they are using them precisely as Freud intended.

But it's also been widely accepted since Freud that transference is a thing that all humans do, in many (if not all) situations. You could think of these as big-T-Transference (Freud) and little-t-transference (general psychology). And the big difference between the two is, whether or not the therapist/client discuss the transference of feelings openly or not. In Freud - not. That would basically ruin things for the client, they need to come to the understanding with the most minimal of guidance. But the analyst figures it out before the client does, and that's part of how their guidance can be so minimal.

General psychology, there's usually an assumption that discussing the transference openly is beneficial to the client, and it's far less important that the transference be projected directly onto the therapist. It might be, but that's considered more a by-product of modern therapy, as opposed to an essential goal.

Sorry, going on and on. It's really interesting - but also, the way Freudians talk about transference is soooooooo specific, and doesn't easily apply to any other form of therapy - so, the way this therapist in the article writes about counter-transference is also quite quite different from how non-Freudian therapist would react to the exact same phenomenon.
 

Friday

Moderator
“How can a person do therapy without transference?”
Mixing up my past & my present with my therapist as an actor from my past? Would be completely unhelpful.

I mean… just think of it, for a moment…

Which role should I mistake him for?
- Enemy combatant
- Civilian in the way
- Dead kids on the deck
- Any one of the thousands of people who have been in my various chains of command
- Friends/lovers/enemies that I have unique relationships built with based on who they are & who I am & where we are
- Other people I was held with
- Any of the people I was held by
- Any of the people I worked with, or for, or for me
- Misc. criminals
- Hurricane / Flood / Storm / Earthquake / Epidemic / Fire
- etc,

There’s no central “bad actor” or “bad actors” in my trauma history.

No one for him to step into the role of and provide lessons/guidance or protection/security that a parent didnt, nor a sneak preview into what an equal relationship based on trust, respect, and someone else wanting the best for me…

( yes, yes, I had an abusive twat for a husband, but I’ve also been in enough amazing romantic relationships & friendships to know the synergistic effect of healthy relationships, a preview of that by way of a highly structured/formalized relationship isn’t even as effective as being hungry whilst watching food on TV. It doesn’t whet my appetite for more, nor prepare me for possibilities outside my frame of reference.)

…so there’s no useful aspect to Transference with/for me, even with my connection/attachment/interpersonal issues. They’re simply not sourced that way.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
My T practices Transactional Analysis too, but from an integrated and relational basis, so she is all about the transference and countertransference.

There is also articles about 'transference harm' that I have read. Where the client/patient who has a form of idealistic transference towards the T can be harmed. That freaked me out when all this transference stuff was really intense for me and I was scared about it.

But now I have settled in to it and I'm ok about what I project on to her (mostly).

This is the link for the web page I was talking about. It says it is a 'course' which confuses me because it's all there. I found it helpful anyways. And I put another one in there.



I have booked marked a number of articles about transference because of the focus my T has on it and also because of how intense it has been for me and I wanted to figure things out.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
far less important that the transference be projected directly onto the therapist.
Ok, so when I have brought up the transference we don’t dwell on it and her general response is “it will go away.” We don’t dwell in that space (partly because it’s scary and also I’m the one deciding what to talk about.).

It is my understanding that in psychoanalysis the topic of “the relationship in the room” is often front and center to the exclusion of any events from the past. Since my T doesn’t direct the conversation I imagine that I could go in and spend the whole time focused on the transference and my feelings for her. But I never do because I always have a ton of crap that I’m dealing with emotionally and want to process (usually a combination of present day blended with memories.). Also since I’m only seeing her once every two weeks it’s hard to work up to talking about the transference. The times when I’ve talked about it were when I didn’t have a lot of other stuff happening. I think the reason psychoanalysis encourages people to attend multiple times a week is so they *can* focus on the relationship with the analyst, from my understanding.
quite quite different from how non-Freudian
And now I’m curious about a TA perspective. I don’t have a link but somewhere I read another therapist’s perspective (don’t remember their training) where she said something similar like transference being a “happy secret” between provider and client, something along the lines of “if we could we would but we can’t so we share the knowing that we would, but we respect each other’s positions, and move forward from there.”

I appreciate the article links @Movingforward10

I can see from the perspectives of those who don’t need to do attachment work that transference work becomes something to avoid. If I didn’t need it I might imagine anyone who worked with it was borderline harming clients. If I didn’t need it then the thought that my provider might think about interacting with me as a mother or lover would offend me.

Now that I think about it I imagine there are parts of me that *do* think like that and that leads to fear and resistance. However
similarly
I have settled in to it and I'm ok about what I project on to her (mostly).
Because of the nature of my trauma (infant csa by parent, hidden from consciousness for decades, confirmed by abuser) it makes perfect sense to me that I’m deep in transference. I was deep in it before this therapist with everyone around me that I felt connected to, just unaware, which is small t.

I’ve also been in enough amazing romantic relationships & friendships to know the synergistic effect of healthy relationships,
This is a goal—and I am getting there. I am doing it (friendship) in a very thin and spindly way, but *healthy* thin and spindly. I’m not even close to amazing romance and dynamic friendship but I hope to feel the synergistic effect someday that eclipses the need for a formalized relationship.

It’s hard to imagine anyone who grew up with csa and physical abuse by a parent saying, “Yeah my attachment styles are disorganized and avoidant, I dissociate for hours a day, and I fantasize about being protected by someone with power, but I’ve been in enough amazing relationships that I don’t need the formal structure of a therapeutic relationship with transference, I just lean on those great experiences.” But I’m projecting again, and chances are those people do exist.

I am grateful for the structured relationship as it is working like a cast for me. Because even though I don’t yet have the level of relationships of someone who doesn’t need transference, my mind/body craves the experience and creativity and serenity that people get from amazing relationships. So I imagine them in the framework of the transference, but I am also practicing with friends, and with the therapist.

It’s hard not to feel a bit sad and ashamed about needing the framework of the transference. People who don’t utilize it sometimes let on a kind of, “Whew! Glad I’m not dealing with THAT!!” (Not saying anyone who responded to this thread said that, everyone has been respectful.) But maybe a person who says that wouldn’t understand it the way people who work with it do. I can get over it because I understand the “what if” game is a losing one and I’m grateful to have the supports I have.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
@OliveJewel , I felt sad and ashamed about transference too.

Mainly for me, because I do have relationships in my life that are healthy. I have friends I love and who love me. There is a lot of kindness and love in my life. My partner, 17 years and a healthy relationship. So why all this intense primal feeling for T??
I felt ashamed about it for a long time.
I also felt ashamed about it as I never knew that I missed out on love as a child. I never knew I wanted this sort of parental love and validation. I prided myself on not needing parents and managing on my own. It's only through this transference that I realise how deep those attahcment wounds go.

So for me, it is healing those very early primal stuff.

My T and I do a lot of work 'within the transference', as we use it as a way of identifying deficits in the parenting I received and it helps me connect to feelings that I did know existed. We prov talk about transference in one form or another most sessions.

Having had this positive parental transference, and also projecting negative transference onto T: I can say for me it is much better seeing her as a positive person, than as a n abuser. That was very very painful, the negative transference, but also a lot of healing came from that.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
I never knew that I missed out on love as a child. I never knew I wanted this sort of parental love and validation. I prided myself on not needing parents and managing on my own. It's only through this transference that I realise how deep those attahcment wounds go.
This perspective is helpful and I can see a similar pattern in my own life. Understanding that “I never knew what I missed or what I wanted” and remembering how I prided myself on “non-attachment” to everyone and everything helps me understand why the transference is so important in my current therapy.
 
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