Countertransference Awareness and Therapists' Use of Personal Therapy
Type of DegreeDissertation
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This study explored the relationship between therapists’ personal therapy and their countertransference management and awareness. Participants consisted of fifty-seven interns, postdoctoral interns, and ABD clinicians and their supervisors at APA-accredited internship sites. Supervisees completed a brief experimenter-designed survey inquiring about an impactful personal therapy experience they had, if they had sought therapy after beginning their graduate training. This survey included an open-ended question regarding the impact of personal therapy on their clinical practice. Supervisors rated their supervisees using the Countertransference Factors Inventory (CFI), a 21-item questionnaire using a Likert-scale to measure aspects of countertransference management, including self-insight. Data analysis focused on the hypotheses that having experienced personal therapy would be correlated to both higher CFI scores and self-insight subscale scores. It was also hypothesized that longer therapy would correlate positively to higher scores on the CFI and the self-insight subscale in particular. Having experienced personal therapy since beginning graduate training was not found to be related to any aspect of countertransference management as measured by the CFI, nor was the length of the therapy. Additional exploratory analyses also did not reveal any significant relationships. Findings from the open-ended question revealed that therapists’ perception of the influence of their personal therapy on their clinical work were almost uniformly positive. Several themes emerged, including increased self-awareness, greater empathy, and heightened awareness and appreciation of transference and countertransference processes. With exception of the open-ended responses, which are consistent with existing literature on therapists’ perceptions of their personal therapy, the findings in this study are divergent from previous empirical investigations in the areas of countertransference and personal therapy.