The University of Arizona

Subjective tools in diagnosis: A case for countertransference

Bagambhrini Gerace

Abstract


Psychiatric diagnosis and treatment depends on the therapist’s ability to accurately observe and analyze the patient’s emotional, mental, and behavioral state. During this process, the variety of unconscious responses arising in the therapist is termed countertransference—which describes the predictable patterns of emotional and behavioral changes that occur in response to the patient’s personality. In the case of a personality disorder, this phenomenon is amplified. With understanding and non-judgmental recognition of these responses, therapists can use countertransference to inform their diagnosis and approach to treatment. An informal study of these responses, elicited in both experienced clinicians and medical student trainees, was conducted to elucidate the phenomenon of countertransference in the context of a case presentation.


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