(2013). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 29(4):466-480
Working to Understand Our Role in the Patient's Mind: Countertransference and the Problems of Immersion
To be fully helpful, in a way that respects both the internal and external needs and conflicts of our patients in analytic treatment, we must become immersed in their emotional perspective and have a feel for how they view and value themselves and their objects. Allowing ourselves to be carried into their inner phantasies and to be in touch with their strivings towards and away from love, hate, and is important in the . is unavoidable but, if properly monitored and , it can provide a beneficial therapeutic device.
However, when treating disturbed patients who draw us into more paranoid states or primitive conflicts, we are often involved in various degrees of . Even then, the , if carefully studied, can help us rebalance ourselves therapeutically and start to better understand how the patient is using us in their and why they need to or to organize their relational world in such terms. We cannot help but be immersed within the patient's belief system but, by aware of our thoughts and feelings and reactions, we can keep our head above the
choppy waters enough to act out less and offer constant interpretations that are more informed and focused on the patient's unique and personal relational conflicts and internal belief system.
From an relational, post-Kleinian , the author examines one case in depth. The patient consulted the analyst with concerns about her grown children and her of how damaged they were emotionally. The subsequent meetings involved intense and experiences that are explored. The author's approach builds on prior clinical understanding based on the Kleinian method (Waska, , , , ).