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Title: An exploration of Counselling Psychologists' experiences of subjective and objective countertransference and how this impacts the therapeutic process
Author: Joseph, Drusilla Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 5489
Awarding Body: University of Wolverhampton
Current Institution: University of Wolverhampton
Date of Award: 2015
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This study seeks to qualitatively explore and understand counselling psychologists experience of subjective and objective countertransference within individual therapy and how this affects the counselling process. Historically the available literature suggests that the development of countertransference has been dominated through theoretical papers rather than empirical research. The complex nature of countertransference amongst practitioners can often cause controversy and debate when it is further broken down into subjective and objective factors. Not only does this impact the therapist, the client and the working alliance, but also the larger systems operating around these variables. This study provides a rich and detailed examination of subjective and objective countertransference through the methodology of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Six counselling psychologists participated in a face-to-face semi-structured interview revealing countertransference in three parts; subjective, objective and contributory factors giving rise to seven superordinate themes. ‘Subjective’ Super-ordinate revealed ‘Professional, Personal and Reactors’. ‘Objective’ Super-ordinate found ‘Clients life outside the analysis’ and ‘Contributing Factors to Countertransference’ Super-ordinate encapsulated ‘Service restrictions, Therapeutic Relationship and Training’. These findings support several conceptual and theoretical published papers, however this empirical investigation adds to the literature through further informing clinical practice. It does so by separating parts of countertransference, digging deeper into those parts in an isolated way showing the affective processes, techniques, the interplay of evoked feelings to better manage countertransference in the moment of experiencing it and overall how this impacts the therapeutic relationship. Future research could consider exploring how counselling psychologists in the UK focus their attention on distinctive parts of subjective and objective countertransference (subjective countertransference thoughts, subjective countertransference feelings and subjective countertransference behaviours, as well as objective countertransference thoughts, feelings and behaviours separately), further research would also benefit from qualitative investigations of subjective and objective reactions when working with certain populations, for example, diagnosis/symptom-specific individuals, certain demographics and/or investigating couples or family systemic groups and whether this has any impact on the working alliance, therapeutic technique, intervention and outcome. Potential clinical implementation include counselling psychologists becoming better positioned to recognise when subjective and objective countertransference is occurring, what to do with it through the application of techniques and how to maintain a ‘good enough’ working alliance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Couns.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Subjective Countertransference ; Objective Countertransference ; Counselling Psychology ; Therapeutic process ; Countertransference ; Management ; techniques