as described in the Dictionary of Psychology,
is the analyst's transference on to his/her patient,
often used more widely to describe the analyst's
feelings toward the patient (Statt, 1981). In
the practice of therapy, that is, psychotherapy
that is non-analytical, the therapist's own personality
is one of the most significant factors in treatment.
The therapist's attempt to reach the patient on
an humanistic level is equal to any technical
skills and knowledge. The life experiences, attitudes
and genuineness that the therapist brings into
the relationship are critical factors in establishing
trust. As Humphrey and colleagues (1983) suggest,
"above all, therapists need to be skilled
and sensitive. Mere knowledge of theories is of
limited practical value if the therapists are
not able to use themselves as persons constructively
in sessions with individuals and couples."
are offered for sufferers of Posttraumatic Stress
Disorder. These methodologies are efficacious
to some, while others continue to feel their terror
in an isolated world of fear and aloneness. The
sufferer remains for the most part an outsider
who is convinced that he/she cannot be fully understood
for the pain they are enduring. My own experience
with sufferers of PTSD is that the constant that
seems to control their inability to extricate
the affect of the memory is this feeling of aloneness.
Indeed, for the most part, they were alone.
The child, molested by the father who looked to
mother for help - but for security, financial,
and/or social implications was denied even recognition
of the problem - was alone. She continues to believe
that she is unique in her subjective world - different,
bad, deserving of what happened to her, a traitor
for "telling," and emotionally guarded
(for it could happen again). Those of us who have
not suffered such trauma, cannot begin to truly
understand this feeling of solitary detachment.
We can empathize, treat from a distance, and even
allow our emotional selves to express our sympathy.
But are we really aware? Are we really there -
with our patient? It is this awareness
that I am presenting under the guise of countertransference.
as in love, there cannot be effective emotional
connectedness without understanding. I am suggesting
that we attempt to enter this world with our patient.
Not solely from an impassive theoretical arena,
but to actually walk, feel, see, smell, taste
hand, I want to go there with you. I am afraid,
and I don't like where we may be headed, but
I need to be there. Maybe then, I can truly
understand what now I can only glance. Maybe
then, together, we can touch this thing and
take it out of the shadows."
I have found that
this statement and action, have provided
two significant areas of straightforward resolution
in the therapeutic dynamic. First, the humanistic
availability of myself to my patient allows them
to afford a vulnerability that otherwise they
contain. Secondly, my "wanting" to go
there, to experience with all senses, instills
a certain normalcy to their perceived uniqueness.
Engaging in the full process of experience by
allowing ourselves to encounter the trauma and
relay to our patient our own upset about "being
there," provides us with more than a glimpse
of the distress. Perhaps giving ourselves a more
acute sense of affectivity will open us to more
creative, objective and effective ways of settling
(1983). Ethical and professional issues in
psychotherapy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice
Statt, D. (1981).
Dictionary of Psychology. New York, NY:
Harper and Row.
©1998 by The
American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress,