Therapist Perspectives on Countertransference: Qualitative Data in Search of a Theory

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A consensual qualitative research strategy was used to examine data from 127 interviews conducted with 8 psychologists immediately following their sessions of brief therapy with 8 clients. Analyses revealed 3 domains relevant to countertransference: origins (including categories of family issues, needs and values, therapy specific issues, and cultural issues), triggers (including categories of content of client material, therapist comparing client with others, change in therapy structure or procedures, therapist assessing progress of therapy, therapist perception of client, and emotions), and manifestations (including categories of approach, avoidance, negative feelings, and treatment planning). The frequency of categories within and across cases was classified, and relationships among categories from the 3 domains were detected, generating hypotheses for future empirical research. Implications for practice, training, and continued research are discussed.

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