Experiences of Countertransference: Reports of Clinical Psychology Students

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Journal Article
Australian Psychologist, 2014, 49 (4), pp. 232 - 240
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While historically linked with psychoanalysis, countertransference is recognised as an important component of the experience of therapists, regardless of the therapeutic modality. This study considers the implications of this for the training of psychologists. Fifty-five clinical psychology trainees from four university training programmes completed an anonymous questionnaire that collected written reports of countertransference experiences, ratings of confidence in managing these responses, and supervision in this regard. The reports were analysed using a process of thematic analysis. Several themes emerged including a desire to protect or rescue clients, feeling criticised or controlled by clients, feeling helpless, and feeling disengaged. Trainees varied in their reports of awareness of countertransference and the regularity of supervision in this regard. The majority reported a lack of confidence in managing their responses, and all reported interest in learning about countertransference. The implications for reflective practice in postgraduate psychology training are discussed. © 2014 The Australian Psychological Society.
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