Psychotherapist personal factors, often referred to as countertransference reactions, are widely believed to impact the therapeutic process. While the existence of the countertransference is commonly accepted by contemporary psychotherapists, there is continued debate over its nature, quality and therapeutic utility. Further, there have been relatively few empirical studies on the countertransference reactions of practicing psychologists and other mental health professionals. This study aimed to address this lack by examining the frequency and nature of countertransference experiences as reported by psychoanalysts. Additionally, this study sought to explore the relationship between countertransference reactions and patient symptomology as suggested by recent findings (Betan, Heim, Conklin, & Western, 2005; Brody & Farber, 1996; Rossberg, Karterud, Pedersen, & Friis, 2007, 2008, 2010). Seventy psychoanalysts with memberships to national psychoanalytic organizations completed a brief, web-based survey on countertransference. The results of this study indicated that psychoanalysts report constantly experiencing countertransference reactions and that these reactions are mostly positive in nature, independent of the clinician's background or demographic information. The results also showed that most psychoanalysts defined the CT phenomenon as "all of a therapist's reactions," during the psychotherapy, reflecting the "totalist" perspective of CT. A small but significant association was found between CT definition and reported CT frequency, suggesting the role of theory in shaping clinical experience. While respondents were just as likely to report CT reactions with patients diagnosed with Axis I and Axis II disorders, Cluster B personality disorders were most specified amongst the Axis II endorsements. The findings of this study provide a contemporary outlook on the countertransference phenomenon. This study's limitations relate to its homogenous sample population and abnormal distribution rate.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (PsyD) -- Psychology; Countertransference (Psychology); Psychoanalysts -- Psychology

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Shafranske, Edward;