Transference and countertransference involve unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another.
Transference occurs when an individual redirects some of their emotions, expectations, or desires for another person to a different person.
Transference is typically seen when a patient is transferring his/her feelings about an individual (e.g., father) onto his/her physician.
Countertransference is the unconscious reaction to a patient's transference or behavior, in which the physician projects his/her feelings, expectations, and desires onto the patient.
In countertransference, a physician is typically projecting his/her feelings for another person onto his/her patient. A good example of this would be a doctor who projects his feelings about his son, who doesn't listen to him, onto his patient, who seems to not follow his recommendations.
Positive transference involves the transfer of enjoyable aspects of past relationships onto the therapist. This can have a positive outcome as the physician, and the doctor can see each other in a more positive light, which can strengthen the doctor-patient relationship.
Negative subtype of transference involves the transfer of negative emotions from other relationships onto the doctor.
Sexualized transference involves the transfer of sexual/romantic thoughts, feelings or expectations. A classic example of sexual transference is falling in love with one's physician.
Establishing a strong therapeutic relationship is key to the prevention and management of transference and countertransference. An experienced therapist can utilize the transference to better understand the patient's feelings, expectations, and thoughts. This can aid in establishing trust and strengthening the relationship. Physicians should maintain strong boundaries and maintain a professional relationship with their patients to avoid countertransference or its effects on the doctor-patient relationship.
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