Transference and the establishment of the therapeutic relationship: A psychoanalytic and psychodynamic exploration

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Young, Conor
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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Most commonly held views suggest the phenomenon of transference is a part of everyday life. Yet for those experiencing distress and seeking help from psychotherapy, the transference of strong emotions onto the therapist can be confusing and disruptive to the treatment. Freud initially described transference as the greatest obstacle to psychoanalysis but over time came to view it as its greatest asset. The paper below explores transference for the purpose it serves and the disruption it causes. It asks if transference can ultimately serve to prevent rather than feed a rupture in the therapeutic relationship. In consideration of the phenomenon and its role in therapy, the paper posits that transference must be employed by the therapist to establish a secure base for the client and ultimately serve as a cornerstone rather than hammer for the therapeutic alliance. It is essentially our capacity to encourage, interpret, contain and resolve the powerful, primitive emotions brought forth in transference that will forge the bond and secure the base within which the hard work of therapy can be carried out. The research was carried out from a reading of established and contemporary literature and helped the author develop a deeper understanding of the central role of transference and its impact on therapeutic relationship. The outcome suggests further investigation into the precise nature of rupture in the therapeutic relationship would be of great value.