Uncontained and uncontaining: A grounded theory of therapists’ countertransference, and defensive practices in an organisational context

Shelley Gait, Andrea Halewrood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Countertransference, it is widely agreed can either deepen awareness of personal and relational dynamics to the benefit of the work or it can distort and become an impediment through the adoption of defences. The aim of this study was to explore what supported the development of countertransference awareness in an organisational context through a qualitative study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 therapists either face to face or online. The findings indicate that participants followed one of two pathways, a reflective pathway, where they developed their countertransference awareness to the benefit of the work, and a defensive pathway, the focus of the present paper. Here, the findings suggest that when the organisational setting, the supervisory relationship, and the adopted theoretical framework, did not support the thinking about the relational dynamics, including countertransferential responses, it resulted in the adoption of defences, to the detriment of the work with the client. The implication of the findings, including the limitations of the study and avenues for further research, are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPsychodynamic Practice
Volume00
Issue number00
Early online date29 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • Anxiety-Defence
  • Containment
  • Defensive practice
  • Countretransference
  • Projective Identification
  • Enactments
  • Organisational context
  • supervision

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