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Shaughnessy, P. (1995). Empathy and the Working Alliance: The Mistranslation of Freud's Einfühlung. Psychoanal. Psychol., 12(1):221-231.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 12(1):221-231

Empathy and the Working Alliance: The Mistranslation of Freud's Einfühlung

Peter Shaughnessy, M.A.

The working alliance has emerged as an important theoretical construct in both psychotherapeutic practice and research. Concordantly, a great deal of attention has been paid to the therapist's contributions to the working alliance, with empathy having been posited by a number of writers as a necessary condition for a strong attachment between patient and therapist. Although Freud has been recognized for laying the theoretical groundwork for what is today called the working alliance, he has generally not been credited with making an association between empathy and the therapeutic relationship. It is the aim of this article to demonstrate that (a) in 1913, Freud did in fact posit empathy as a necessary condition for the therapeutic relationship; and (b) this has been overlooked by English-speaking readers due to a translation error.

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