Describe the Transference/Counter-Transference Element of the Therapeutic Relationship

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Describe the transference/counter-transference element of the therapeutic relationship

“We see things not as they are but as we are”
Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804)

The transference/counter-transference concept is considered an essential part of the analytical process and plays a fundamental part in creating therapeutic change. Clarkson (2003) has identified transference and counter-transference as one of the 5 strands in her model of the therapeutic relationship. Clarkson (2003) defines the transference/counter-transference relationship as the ‘experience of distortion of the working alliance by wishes and fears and experiences from the past transferred onto or into the therapeutic partnership’. This essay will examine the development
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Freud’s followers came to realise that transference could represent a replay of how a client wished an original relationship experience had been eg. if a client saw their father as aloof and disapproving they may see the therapist that way or as warm and loving creating the father they had wished for. O’Brien and Houston (2007) argue that transference may be about the unfulfilled; an innate need unfulfilled in early life and now sought from in the therapist. Joseph (cited in O’Brien and Houston, 2007) claims that fantasies, impulses, defences and conflicts are all lived out through transference. He suggests that transference can act as a framework within which the therapeutic situation can be understood elucidating characteristic ways of relating in the present as well as providing clues about the origins of these patterns of relating. Transference is so powerful that it expresses itself regardless of therapist gender and all within therapy significant relationships will eventually be transferred onto the therapist (Kahn, M., 1997).

However due to its subjective nature it is difficult to empirically validate the existence and effects of transference. However Yi (1998) (cited in Moodley, R. and Palmer, S., 2006) has researched the effects of race and transference in psychoanalytic literature. Racial differences between therapist and client can be seen to act as a facilitator or a deterrent against the development of transference in the therapeutic
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