SHIFTS IN THE COUNTERTRANSFERENCE PERCEPTIONS OF SELECTED PSYCHOTHERAPISTS UNDERGOING EST SELF-AWARENESS TRAINING

BARBARA KNIGHT-MEYERS, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Like any close interpersonal relationship, the psychotherapy relationship is powerfully influenced by the participants' perceptions of each other. Perceptions mediate and contextualize internal experiences of external phenomena by reflecting our attitudes, belief systems, and notions about the way the world is. When psychotherapists' perceptions of their clients reflect their own unresolved conflicts, a countertransference issues is operative which can seriously obstruct progress in the course of treatment.^ Countertransference can be difficult to detect because it functions as a projection. Therapists may construe aspects of client personality through the filter of their own attitudes and issues. Negative countertransference perceptions can be inferred, however, when a therapist expresses extreme and extended frustration with a client who is not progressing.^ Therapist self-awareness has long been advocated to facilitate the recognition and resolution of countertransference problems. The est training is a prototype of the large-group self-awareness experiences proliferating today.^ This study was designed to explore countertransference and the extent to which it could be modified by a non-specific self-awareness experience like est. Shifts in countertransference perceptions were revealed through participants' explications over time of their interactions with their "most frustrating" clients.^ Fifteen psychotherapists with ongoing caseloads who had enrolled in upcoming est trainings were selected to participate. Before, during, and three months after their est experience, the participants had structured interviews following the Countertransference Schedule.^ The Countertransference Schedule is a structured system permitting the investigator to elicit and organize highly idiographic data within a case study approach.^ Of the 15 psychotherapists studied, 13 perceived, delineated, and explicated positive shifts in countertransference interactions with their "most frustrating" clients. These shifts were associated with experiences of decreased frustration with, and increased satisfaction with the progress of their "most frustrating" clients.^ In the 13 psychotherapists reporting positive shifts after est, a pattern of equilibration was revealed. Directive judgmental therapists tended towards greater permissiveness, while passive unassertive therapists tended towards greater directiveness. ^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology

Recommended Citation

KNIGHT-MEYERS, BARBARA, "SHIFTS IN THE COUNTERTRANSFERENCE PERCEPTIONS OF SELECTED PSYCHOTHERAPISTS UNDERGOING EST SELF-AWARENESS TRAINING" (1983). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI8316043.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI8316043

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