In psychoanalytic theory, counter-transference occurs when the therapist begins to project his or her own unresolved conflicts onto the client. While transference of the client’s conflicts onto the therapist is considered a healthy and normal part of psychodynamic therapy, the therapist’s job is to remain neutral. At one time, counter-transference was widely believed to contaminate the therapeutic relationship. Current thinking is more complex.
Although many now believe it to be inevitable, counter-transference can be damaging if not properly managed. With proper monitoring, however, some sources show that counter-transference can play an important role. Therapists are encouraged to pay close attention to their feelings of counter-transference, and to seek peer review and supervisory guidance as needed. Rather than eliminating counter-transference altogether, the goal is to use those feelings productively rather than harmfully.