The concept of countertransference may be traced back to the times of Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) and the birth of modern-day psychoanalysis. Although countertransference originated from the psychoanalytic tradition, it has become a foundational concept in most therapeutic models. Countertransference is generally defined as the therapist’s unconscious cognitive and affective responses toward his or her clients. Countertransference consequently parallels the construct of transference—that is, the patient’s unconscious feelings toward his or her therapist. Despite its historical roots, the clinical understanding of the term has developed significantly over the course of the 20th century.

Historical Definitions

Traditionally, countertransference was thought to derive from therapists’ unconscious and unresolved early relational conflicts. For instance, the female therapist who was raised by an angry and abusive father might have negatively charged emotions ...

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