Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Experiences of Countertransference as Empathy, Attunement, and Mutual Regression in Individual Psychotherapy: An Intersubjective, Psychoanalytic Study
by Aitken, David E., Jr., Psy.D., The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 2014, 116; 3645881
Abstract (Summary)

The concept, countertransference, has followed the history of transference, being first thought to be an obstacle, then a necessary nuisance, and finally, a potential source of great therapeutic gain. During this history, the related concepts of empathy, attunement, and mutual regression have been studied and have shed some light on the experience of countertransference. However, due to the unconscious nature of these concepts, especially with regards to mutual regression, the psychoanalytic and psychodynamic theories have led to a fuller understanding of these dynamics and, ultimately, countertransference itself. Thus, the two-person psychology was born. From the two-person psychology perspective, the therapeutic dyad is conceptualized from six possible experiences: the client's experience of self, the client's experience of other (therapist), the client's experience of the relationship (client-therapist), the therapist's experience of self, the therapist's experience of other (client), and the therapist's experience of the relationship (client-therapist).

This study proposed, sought, and found ample evidence for the proposition that countertransference, and its related dynamics, can be better understood and leveraged to contribute to an increase in therapeutic gains. Each of the validity judges agreed that countertransference is a dynamic underutilized by therapists. The intersubjective view had a more egalitarian approach than the object relational or modern analytical theorists posited, resulting in the intersubjective approach being less defined but more open with regards to conceptualizing the psychodynamics of their clients. All validity judges agreed that the knowledge a therapist has of his or her countertransference includes not only an intellectual awareness but an emotional awareness and a physical/somatic awareness as well. In addition to this, each of the validity judges believed that the awareness of countertransference alone is useless without the therapist's ability to make skillful use of this awareness in a way that is effective for the client.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Griffith, Nathan M.
Commitee: Futerman, Joseph L.
School: The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Department: Applied Clinical Psychology: Psychodynamic Psychology Concentration
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-B 76/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clinical psychology
Keywords: Attunement, Countertransference, Empathy, Mutual regression, Projective identification, Transference
Publication Number: 3645881
ISBN: 978-1-321-35294-8
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