Transference and countertransference. As an undergraduate in psychology I had no idea what either of these words meant. Now, these words, and many others, are a part of my everyday vocabulary. Our professors remind us in each class each semester to be mindful of transference and countertransference, to realize its benefits and mostly its disadvantages. Addressing our personal issues before we begin practicing is often encouraged in order to avoid a potentially negative situation involving transference. One professor even went as far as to share with the class his own experiences with counseling after the death of his wife. Having only known this man for maybe one or two weeks, I thought he was very brave to share his story with us. While we are all counselors-in-training, it is still unnerving to share your history with a group of strangers.
I felt this way when I began counseling as well. I remember the anxiety I felt when requesting an appointment and all the different thoughts I had surrounding the process. I was nervous about meeting my counselor, whether or not I would like him or her. I wondered how the counselor would respond to my problems. I also thought about what my friends and others might think of me upon learning that I had decided to seek counseling. In the end, I considered my future as a counselor and again thought, “How would I feel sharing this with a client?”
Undergoing my own therapy was truly beneficial in more ways than one. An unexpected benefit was seeing therapy from the client’s perspective. When trying to develop a new relationship with someone I try to find a commonality between us and I admit that it can sometimes be quite hard.
Hayley Wilson is a counselor-in-training at Florida Atlantic University. Her areas of interest include military service members and PTSD, substance abuse, and coffee.