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Title: Does the development of countertransference awareness influence the therapeutic relationship? : a grounded theory analysis
Author: Gait, Shelley
ISNI:       0000 0004 6349 1150
Awarding Body: University of the West of England
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2017
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The psychodynamic literature suggests that countertransference is an inevitable part of therapy and a significant feature of the client-therapist relationship. However, countertransference is also considered to be a 'double edged sword'; when it is reflected on by the therapist, it can offer valuable insights into the therapeutic relationship, but when it remains outside of awareness and therefore unmanaged, it can result in the therapist unwittingly acting out in the therapeutic relationship and responding in counter-therapeutic ways. While research into countertransference currently lags behind the voluminous theoretical literature on the construct, in recent times there has been a growing interest into countertransference management. While some key factors in this process have been identified, how awareness of countertransference develops has yet to be explored. The purpose of this research was twofold, to explore the development of countertransference awareness and how this may or may not influence the therapeutic relationship and to construct a grounded theory of the process. 15 qualified therapists were recruited and interviewed, either, face to face or via Skype, using a semi-structured interview. The grounded theory constructed from the data suggests that participants initially experienced countertransference as threatening and overwhelming. When the experience of overwhelm was contained in supervision and therapy, the work context and by their theoretical framework, participants could reflect on their countertransferential responses, make sense of their experience, which developed their self-awareness and other insights, to the benefit of the therapeutic relationship. Conversely, a lack of containment in these domains, resulted in participants acting out their countertransference and becoming either over or under available in the therapeutic relationship. Implications for practice, supervision and training are discussed, with recommendations for practice. In addition, avenues for further research are also explored.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Couns.Psych.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: development ; countertransference ; therapeutic relationship ; grounded theory analysis