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The Importance of Exploring Transference and Countertransference in Clinical Supervision

Clinical Master Class Evening held on 20 March 2013

These recorded lectures are available to be viewed for a small fee at Owl Talks Lectures.

Transference, Countertransference and The Conversational Model

Dr George Lianos

It has been said that transference and countertransference are two of the most central constructs in the practice of psychotherapy. Although different schools conceptualise these key ideas in slightly different ways that reflect their core underlying assumptions, they all share the notion that there is a repetitive dimension to each person’s behaviour that also emerges in therapy, that one may not be aware of. The meaning of these terms has expanded over the years to such an extent that in some circles transference and countertransference have come to mean all of the behaviours that emerge in therapy. Although there may be much truth in such a “universal” perspective, the value of these constructs may be compromised and dimished when their specificity is lost.

The Conversational Model proposes restricting the use of the concept of transference to those repetitive elements that come from a traumatic relational past and that one may be unaware of. The Conversational Model is a “Relational Model” that highlights the importance of mutually regulated, co-constructed, and overlapping expectational fields.

Supervision offers one of several potentially safe spaces where one can explore one’s own understanding of these traumatic elements, in order to overcome any potential limitations that can arise when a poor understanding may disrupt the progress of therapy. Dr Lianos will give an overview of the ideas of transference and countertransference as conceptualised from within the Conversational Model, before proceeding to discuss the importance of exploring these issues in clinical supervision.

Whose Transference Is It Anyway?

Deborah Gould

In this presentation Deb Gould will discuss some of the dynamics between the three players in the supervision process, the supervisee, the client and the supervisor, using material from clinical supervision with a STARTTS colleague. Since clinical awareness is blunted by burnout and the supervisee’s personal conflicts, the need for self care and/or psychotherapy might become evident. STARTTS’ provision of self care is fairly well entrenched in our practice. However the surfacing of the supervisee’s own struggles can derail the process of supervision by pulling it into psychotherapy. It is almost impossible to avoid (or resist?) this when exploring the supervisee’s countertransference.

Parallel processes will also be explored because there is often a need to respond to practical concerns and crises that frequently emerge with refugee clients and take priority in the therapy. They might also do so in supervision and sometimes undermine that process. How could supervision address the dynamics of transference and countertransference, and parallel process to best advantage for the three players?

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