Objective: Recently, studies have reported systematic relationships between the therapists’ emotional response/countertransference (CT) during therapy and a variety of patient characteristics, speaking to the communicative potential of CT. Within an RCT assessing the role of transference work (TW) in psychodynamic therapy, we investigated whether therapist CT was related to patients’ pre-treatment interpersonal problems, degree of personality pathology and motivation for psychodynamic therapy. Secondly, we explored if these relationships depended on whether the therapists used TW or not in sessions. Method: One hundred outpatients were treated with psychodynamic psychotherapy (with or without TW) for one year. Their therapists’ emotional reactions after sessions (CT) were assessed with the Feeling Word Checklist-58 (FWC-58). Results: Four subscales of the FWC-58; Inadequate, Confident, Disengaged and Parental feelings were differentially predicted by patient characteristics. Some of the associations depended on treatment condition such that degree of PD pathology was associated with therapists feeling more inadequate in the non-TW-group. Patients’ motivation for treatment was associated with less disturbing CT feelings, such as Inadequate and Disengaged CT (the latter especially in the TW group), and feeling more Confident CT. Conclusion: Patient factors predict therapists’ emotional countertransference differently depending on whether therapists use transference work in psychodynamic therapy.
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