Medicine (MD/DO)
Fundamentals of Psychology
Transference and Countertransference

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Transference and Countertransference

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Transference and Countertransference

Trans-farmer Transferring and Countertransferring
Transference is a situation where the feelings, expectations, and desires that a person has towards another person (e.g., spouse) are unconsciously transferred to a completely different person, typically a doctor or therapist. Countertransference is the unconscious reaction to a patient's transference or behavior, in which the doctor/therapist projects his or her expectations, feelings, and desires onto the patient. Positive transference is marked by the transfer of enjoyable aspects of the past relationships onto the doctor. On the other hand, negative subtype involves the transfer of negative and hostile feelings. Lastly, the sexualized subtype is marked by the transfer of romantic, intimate, or sexual thoughts, and feelings. Establishing a strong, professional doctor-patient relationship can minimize countertransference and utilize the transference that patient is experiencing to better understand his/her feelings and thoughts and provide appropriate counseling.
Unconscious Guy

Transference and countertransference involve unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another.

Trans-farmer Transferring

Transference occurs when an individual redirects some of their emotions, expectations, or desires for another person to a different person.

Projecting Feelings from Patient to Physician
Animals Being Transferred From Patient to Doctor

Transference is typically seen when a patient is transferring his/her feelings about an individual (e.g., father) onto his/her physician.

Trans-farmer Countertransferring

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.

Projecting Feelings from Physician to Patient
Animals Being Transferred From Doctor to 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.

Sex Symbols

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.

Therapeutic Relationship
Relationship Between Doctor and Patient

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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