COUNTERTRANSFERENCE—THE PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY DEFENSE

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Abstract

ABSTRACT

This paper takes note of what the authors term the Professional Identity Defense. That is, that too much of what happens in therapy involves the unconscious need of professionals to defend their professional images at the expense of the client, terming the client's objection to this as the client's resistance. This is true of professionals of varying theoretical persuasions and may be manifested as 1) data denseness–a blindness to certain client data that would require a response different from the orthodox response; 2) a smug attitude towards one's own understanding of the client. This would appear as flatfootedness, blaming the client, unimaginative-ness about one's way of proceeding in the overall technical conducting of the therapy, a failure to utilize potentials of projective identification (an inability, in effect, to listen with the third ear) and 3) structural rigidities in conducting the work which predetermine responses, and the therapist's refusal to alter them.

Using examples from a number of currently fashionable therapy schools, the authors expound on their argument and suggest that this difficulty stems not only from the individual practitioner's anxiety, but from biases built into the theory of these schools. Each of these schools sets up taboos with regard to what must not be allowed to happen in therapy. That the violation of these taboos acts operationally to introduce new important data, rather than simply interfering with the fine tuning of therapeutic focus, must be looked at fearlessly and honestly in order to truly enhance therapeutic effectiveness.

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