Friday, January 26, 2007

Transference, Countertransference & Dual Roles

Oh, the discussions I have in my own head...
and no, I'm not saying I talk to myself... yes, you do ... no I don't... yes... no..

Wikipedia says:
In a therapy context, transference refers to redirection of a client's feelings from a significant person to a therapist. Transference is often manifested as an erotic attraction towards a therapist. Although transference is often characterized as a useful tool for building trust between a client and a therapist, transference can also interfere with a therapist’s ability to help a client.
Counter-transference is defined as redirection of a therapist's feelings toward a client, or more generally as a therapist's emotional entanglement with a client. Some therapists become confused between clients and intimate partners if countertransference is not recognized and appropriately addressed by the therapist.

and then there's "Dual Roles" or "Dual Relationships"

One source says:
A dual relationship exists when a therapist serves in the capacity of both therapist and at least one other role with the same client. Most commonly the second relationship is social, financial, or professional and may be concurrent
or subsequent to the therapeutic relationship.

Another says:
Besides sex with a client, other examples of dual relationships are engaging in therapy with a friend, a student, a colleague or a business associate. Additional forms of dual relationships might be such shared activities as attending the same church, belonging to the same social club or recreational sports league, attending the same conferences or political rallies.

So, my question is... What do you do about Dual Relationships?
In many cases, you may have a relationship with someone BEFORE you become their therapist.
Now I can see how, in the world of medicine or psychotherapy, you should NOT take a friend or loved one as a client (though we know it happens). But what about other forms of therapy? Physical Therapy/Rehabilitation? Massage Therapy? Other wellness therapies? Where exactly should you draw the line?
In my own experience, as a massage therapy student... it's a given that I have friends/family as my first (practice) clients. And it's conceivable that they may very well remain my clients.

How Do You Avoid Transference/Countertransference?
I've experienced transference in my own life. Then again... HAVE I?
Is it automatically considered transference if you become "involved" with an authority figure?
If I become friends with a therapist, a coach, a teacher or perhaps a supervisor... is it Transference? absolutely? Might I have become friends with the individual if I'd met them in some other environment? I make friends all the time, it's just who I am.
It seems the very nature of the term Transference means you're projecting past feelings and experiences ONTO this new individual. I don't believe I've ever done that. Have I? I become close to someone because we "click". Emotionally, physically... whatever.

We're human! We're taught to LOVE our clients. How can you attempt to help someone heal if you do not? How can you make someone FEEL better? How can you ever transfer any energy, warmth, "good vibes" if you do NOT love them?

How then can it NOT become personal?

Ah, life's delicious duality!


Rick said...

I think it's a whole lot simpler to just have a clear mind.

peg said...

In what regard, Rick?

Rick said...

Just dropping the internal dialogue; letting the "monkey mind" settle down.

Your mind settles down, and you become a lot more open. You become a lot more open, and you really get a better idea of what is going on around you; and what's "important" and what's not.

Just a thought.