Therapists attachment and empathic dispositions as determinants of countertransference

[Speaker] Laverdière, Olivier:1
[Co-author] Descoteaux, Jean:1
1:Universite de Sherbrooke (Canada)

Countertransference manifestations are a common phenomenon in the psychotherapeutic process. They can be viewed as an important tool when informing therapists about relational issues enacted in-session or as detrimental when unattended. While patients' psychopathology influence on countertransference is documented, research is scarce regarding therapists' contributions. Relational and emotional dispositions of therapists may be quite relevant in that regard. The current study aims to evaluate the association of therapists' attachment and empathy to their countertransference. The participants were 350 therapists who identified their emotional and behavioral reactions to a specific patient. They also completed questionnaires on attachment and empathy. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed the significant role of attachment and empathy in relation to countertransference. Moreover, moderation analyses revealed significant interaction patterns. In conclusion, it seems that therapists' attachment and empathy can modulate their own reactions to their patients, highlighting the need for therapists to closely monitor their interactions with patients.
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