Examples of Transference
In an attempt to demystify transference, here are some very simple examples:
- You meet someone at a party who reminds you of a favorite aunt and you find yourself feeling warmly towards this new acquaintance.
- A client who has difficulty depending on others may find themselves feeling resentful, jealous, or angry towards their therapist without realizing there is a connection between these feelings and the therapist's upcoming vacation.
- A client who fears disapproval and rejection notices that they suddenly find themselves worried about judgment or criticism from their therapist when they start to talk about a certain topic or feel a particular feeling.
- A perpetually single client prone to distrusting people may begin to view the therapist with suspicion as their relationship deepens.
- A client who struggles with anger and hostility may find themselves similarly struggling with anger and hostility toward the therapist.
It depends. Of note, these are emotional experiences that a person feels in response to the therapist but likely won’t be able to immediately explain or understand. Generally the roots of these responses are not fully conscious. The idea is that a client can begin to see how their mind works in the unique relationship with the therapist, a relationship that is purposefully structured to make the client’s psychology more apparent and a topic of exploration. Noticing, exploring and working through these emotional experiences in relationship with the therapist is a powerful mechanism of growth in psychodynamic therapy.
How Does a Therapist Address Tranference?
For an excellent description of “transference interpretations” or how a therapist might address transference with a client, click here to go to Psychology Today blogger Ryan Howes’ illustrative post with interview of Glen O. Gabbard, MD, an expert in psychodynamic practice and theory.
Getting the Most Out of Therapy
People who get the most out of psychodynamic therapy are those who 1) are willing to try to discern within themselves their feelings and reactions in talking with their therapist and 2) are willing to share and explore them with their therapist. Exploring these feelings and reactions in the immediacy of the relationship with the therapist is considered a powerful mediator of change in psychodynamic therapy.
Click here to read a more detailed description of transference.