Transference and Countertransference

by Jay Earley, Ph.D.

NEEDY PATTERN

Transference

Sees therapist as nurturing mother; dependent

Sees therapist as non-nurturing mother; hurt, angry

Countertransference

Overly involved in caring for client

Repulsed by client’s needs

  

NEED-DENYING PATTERN

Transference

Denies need for nurturing or help from therapist

Countertransference

Happy that client doesn’t need anything

  

INSECURE PATTERN

Transference

Afraid therapist is judgmental of her or doesn’t like her

Countertransference

Overly involved in reassuring client

Repulsed by client’s insecurities

  

ISOLATED PATTERN

Transference

Avoidance of personal/emotional relationship with therapist or denial of it

Countertransference

Treating relationship as if it were only instrumental

Moving too quickly to connect with the client

  

COMPLIANT PATTERN

Transference

Pretends that everything the therapist does works.

Countertransference

Believes the client’s compliance.

  

DEFIANT PATTERN

Transference

Refuses to cooperate with much of the therapy. Fights with therapist and criticizes her approach.

Countertransference

Feels ineffective and incompetent. Feels hurt by criticisms.

Becomes frustrated with client. Gets into arguments and power struggles with client.

  

PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE PATTERN

Transference

Experiences the therapist as pressuring her to perform. Consciously wants to please the therapist, but fails to do therapy correctly, or if she does, fails to progress in life or denies progress. Unconsciously, this is an expression of anger at the therapist and an attempt to defeat the therapist, who she experiences as attempting to control her and change her.

Countertransference

Becomes frustrated with the client for failing.

Feels ineffective and incompetent.

  

CONTROLLING PATTERN

Transference

Refuses to allow therapist to do much. Must be in control of the therapy.

Countertransference

Gets into a power struggle with the client.

  

VICTIM PATTERN

Transference

Complains to therapist about his misery in unconscious attempt to get therapist to do it for him.

Blames therapist for his problems for same unconscious reason.

Countertransference

Fails to see victim stance and keeps trying to reassure and encourage client.

Becomes angry and frustrated at client.

  

CODEPENDENT PATTERN

Transference

Tries to take care of therapist. Picks up on clues of therapist’s pain or life struggles and engages therapist in talking about them. Notices therapist’s insecurities and assuages them.

Countertransference

Allows client to take care of him.

  

SUSPICIOUS PATTERN

Transference

Suspects that the therapist harbors negative feelings toward him that are hidden or that the therapist will at some point turn on him or abandon him. Doesn’t trust positive things he sees.

Countertransference

Becomes annoyed at client for lack of trust and hides this from client, thereby making client’s fears come true.

Pressures client to trust prematurely.

  

AGGRESSIVE PATTERN

Transference

Periodically becomes enraged at therapist over a certain behavior of situation that develops.

Criticizes the therapist’s handling of the therapy.

Countertransference

Becomes frightened of client’s anger and tries to avoid triggering it, leading to non-therapeutic behavior.

Becomes angry at client and shows it directly or covertly.

Feels hurt by criticism, leading to feelings of incompetence.

Argues with client about content of criticisms.

  

SELF-JUDGING PATTERN

Transference

Constantly blames himself for poor performance in therapy and life. Often expects the therapist to feel the same way.

Countertransference

Tries to reassure client without directly working on the inner critic.

Becomes annoyed with client for constant self-judgment, thereby contributing to it.

  

CHARMING PATTERN

Transference

Entertains the therapist with fascinating stories. Engages the therapist’s sexual interest. Charms the therapist.

Countertransference

Becomes more interested in the client’s charm (in whichever form) than in engaging in therapy.

   

BRITTLE FORM OF DEFENSIVE PATTERN

Transference

Becomes deeply hurt by challenges from the therapist (or things perceived that way) and reacts with brittle defenses.

Countertransference

Tries to reassure the client without dealing with underlying issues.

Keeps going with the challenge.

Becomes frustrated that client can’t deal with any challenges.

  

PRIDEFUL PATTERN

Transference

Expects therapist to appreciate or admire him.

Acts superior and demeaning toward therapist.

Countertransference

Therapist admires client or gives appreciation, thinking client needs support.

Therapist becomes angry at client for grandiosity or condescension and challenges him in an unsupportive way.

   

ENTITLED PATTERN

Transference

Client expects special favors from therapist around money, time, etc.

Client expects therapist to give him exactly what he wants.

In making these demands, the client completely disregard any needs or limits the therapist might have.

Countertransference

Therapist gives in to client’s demands.

Therapist becomes angry at client’s demands and at therapist’s needs being ignored.