A Pilot Study of a Method for Teaching Clinical Psychology Trainees to Conceptualise and Manage Countertransference

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Journal Article
Australian Psychologist, 2015, 50 (2), pp. 148 - 156
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© 2015 The Australian Psychological Society. There is evidence that therapists' countertransference responses can affect the therapeutic relationship. There is also evidence that trainee therapists can experience difficulty understanding and managing countertransference. This evidence suggests the need for greater focus on countertransference in the training of professionals, such as psychologists, for whom therapy is a core activity. However, little is currently known about the best way of providing such training or the impact of such training on recipients. This pilot study examined clinical psychology trainees' responses to a teaching and learning method for conceptualising and managing countertransference. The method was designed to be accessible to a range of psychology trainees including those in cognitive behavioural therapy programmes. This article outlines the method and its pilot evaluation. An anonymous online questionnaire was completed by 55 trainees pre-intervention and 40 post-intervention. Qualitative methods were used to examine changes in trainees' analyses of countertransference pre- and post-intervention, and their reports of understanding and managing countertransference. Trainees also rated the intervention. The majority of participants who completed the post-intervention questionnaire reported that training increased awareness of or the ability to conceptualise countertransference. They reported strategies for managing countertransference, although they were less confident in this area.
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