Abstract

An outgrowth of Freud's conception of transference, countertransference was originally viewed as a disruptive force in psychotherapy, one which interfered with the therapist's professional neutrality and objectivity. However, in Gestalt therapy theory and practice, the therapist's subjectivity is viewed as an inevitable and natural dimension of the therapeutic process. A conceptualization of countertransference that presupposes the subjective presence of the therapist to be an inherent obstacle to be overcome is incompatible with Gestalt theory and practice. Yet, we must acknowledge that, at times, some thoughts, feelings, and behavior growing out of the therapist's subjective experience do indeed have the potential to damage the therapeutic relationship and process. This article offers, as an alternative to traditional concepts of countertransference, one based on a dialogical approach to psychotherapy. Such an approach can serve as a useful model to assist the therapist in sustaining successful therapist-client dialogues within the framework of Gestalt therapy theory and practice.

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