An exploration of the impact of countertransference on psychotherapeutic process with terminally ill clients

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Langier, Joanna
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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When working with a dying client, the therapist’s role is to meet the client’s emotional needs. To be able to achieve that, the therapist must possess a ‘death competence’. Being able to manage countertransference that arises during work with terminally ill clients is an essential element of this competence. According to research, this type of countertransference is linked to death anxiety and can be further intensified by additional factors. According to research, countertransference may pose a risk and an obstacle in the therapeutic process, as well as enhance it and aid it towards the resolution. The aim of this study is to further explore the impact of countertransference on psychotherapy with terminally ill clients. The study analyses the forms in which countertransference arises during psychotherapy with dying clients in the context of death anxiety and identifies the factors that impact this countertransference. It explores how countertransference may become an obstacle and how it can be used as a tool in work with terminally ill clients.