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Sandell, R. Rönnås, P. Schubert, J. (1992). Feeling like a Good Psychotherapist—Or a Bad One: Critical Incidents in Psychotherapists' Experiences. Psychoanal. Psychother., 6(3):213-229.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 6(3):213-229

Feeling like a Good Psychotherapist—Or a Bad One: Critical Incidents in Psychotherapists' Experiences

Rolf Sandell, Per-Arne Rönnås and Johan Schubert

What makes a therapist feel competent or incompetent in a session, a concept related to the good — or bad — hour, is an implication of what the therapist believes is good therapy and therefore is trying to do — or believes is bad and therefore tries to avoid doing. In an attempt to infer covert processes in therapists, twenty-seven psychoanalytically-oriented psychotherapists furnished written accounts of sessions when they had felt like good — or bad — therapists. Accounts were analysed and interpreted to uncover the varieties of good and bad experiences and their grounds. Resistance and countertransference were found to be critical phenomena. When the therapist was able to cope with such complications, good feelings were generated, and when he was unable, bad ones — provided he became aware of this inability. If not, the therapist acted out patient-specific or unspecific countertransference feelings in ways that made him feel like a good therapist.

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