Operationalization of countertransference in Positive Psychotherapy

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Abstract
Most examples of countertransference found in literature, refer to the perceived emotional reactions of the therapist, and unconscious components are considered in terms of transitory "blind spots", which may be worked through by gaining awareness of the emotional reactions. Previously, the term "countertransference", as psychoanalytic in origin, used primarily by psychoanalysts. However, now it is recognized by many schools of psychotherapy and applied much more widely.> Today there are two opposite approaches to the concept of countertransference. The first approach can be called "classical." It is characterized by the concept of countertransference, regarded as an unconscious reaction of the psychoanalyst to the transference of the patient. The second approach is called "holistic». In it's light the countertransference is a common emotional reactions of the therapist to the patient in the treatment situation. Despite the fact that the concept of transference and countertransference is about 100 years, the operationalization of these phenomena remains largely insufficient. In our work of the analysis of countertransference, we rely on the theoretical concepts borrowed from Positive Psychotherapy after Nossrat Peseschkian (1968). According to his concepts, there are four channels to investigate the reality: (1)By means of feelings (emotions, feelings);(2)By means of reason (thoughts, impulses); (3) By means of tradition (associations, memories);(4) By means of intuition (imagination, fears, expectations).
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  • ... Measurements such as the Affect-Perception and Affect-Regulation Questionnaire (AREQ) and the Therapist Response Questionnaire/Counter Transference Questionnaire (TRQ/CTQ), allow the scaling of such elements of interaction making them available for research (Löffler-Stastka & Stigler 2011;Betan et al. 2005;Löffler-Stastka 2011). As the TRQ/CTQ measures the therapists' countertransference experiences, which can be understood as a common emotional reaction of the therapist to the patient in the treatment situation (Goncharo 2012) and the AREQ provides information on the patient's affect during the session, correlating the two measurements promises interesting findings about the interaction between therapist and patient. This interaction is of obvious importance to the course of treatment (Cohen 1984). ...
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    Objectives: This paper presents the interaction structure between the therapist's countertransference and the patient's affect based on identified dimensions of how therapists feel and react during sessions with depressed patients. Methods: 639 sessions were audio-recorded and rated by trained raters. These recordings were obtained from the Munich Psychotherapy Study and analyzed with the PQS, the AREQ, and the TRQ/CTQ. Results: Seven components with good to excellent internal consistency (Cronbach α = .745-.902) were found and labeled Hostile Feelings, Positive, Disengaged, Overwhelmed and Encroaching Feelings concerning countertransference and therapists' emotional reaction, while the therapist's behavior was scored on separate dimensions. The middle and final sessions reveal significant correlations between a patient's positive affect experience and positive countertransference. Conclusions: The confirmed pattern implies not only that a positive affect is related to a positive countertransference reaction, but also that a positive countertransference entails a positive affect. The fact that this pattern could be accounted for only during the middle and the last sessions indicate that the working alliance is not fully established at the beginning of the treatment.
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