Transference Part 1

In therapy terns, transference" can be described in brief terms as something resembling the doctor-patient relationship, only taken to a more intense level.

When a person comes into therapy with a hypno-analyst, the sessions can be numerous and often are booked once a week over a period of several months.

In that time, it is natural that a bond begins to form between the patient and the therapist.

More so because the patient comes to trust the therapist to have their best interests at heart and they will in only a few sessions have formed a deep belief in the ability of the therapist to bring about relief from their particular problem.

So far, so good?

Transference is quite normal and happens in most situations where a patient, or client comes to trust the therapist to help them.

From the therapists standpoint, they also build a bond with their client or patient because this is normal when a facilitating personality, which most therapists naturally have, engages to help someone else.

But it goes several levels deeper than this and to explain it thoroughly would take a full sized volume or two to do it justice.

In fact, one of the best and in-depth discussions and explanations of transference can be found in Carl Jung's book, "The Psychology of the Transference".

What is Transference?

So here is a very abbreviated and abridged version.

Essentially, what occurs in therapy is that the patient will transfer the burden and the guilt and whatever other emotions are involved in their problem to the therapist.

For the therapist's part, they accept this transference of their patient's problem and often become (in the patient's unconscious beliefs) a facsimile of the original perpetrator of the traumatic even that has led to the patient's psychological disorder or behavioural problem.

That might seem a lot to mentally digest. That's because it takes something of a leap of faith to actually realise what is really going on in therapy at an unconscious level.

Transference is a good thing in therapy and is often encouraged by the therapist as an additional means of affecting a permanent cure for their patient's problem.

With hypno-analysis in particular, when a patient has been in analysis for some time and has finally reached the point of catharsis (see my earlier posts on Phobias), this might to the casual observer appear to signal the end of therapy. But not quite.

As far as the patient's visits to their therapist go, that session should be the final one, but what has not been finalised is the transference. A well trained hypnotherapist will know that once the final session has been reached, they must discharge their patient and have no more contact with them whatsoever (for at least a period of six months or more).

The reason for this is that the patient must firstly learn to get on with their lives on their own without the crutch of their weekly visits to their therapist and secondly (and most importantly) the transference must be allowed to break, or dissolve on its own. If the therapist and the patient continued to meet in whatever circumstances following therapy, the transference would never break because each meeting would only reinforce it.

The End of Therapy

It is also for this reason that well trained hypnotherapists know that they should not and cannot ever take a friend or family member into therapy. The transference would never have the chance to break and the patient would never be completely cured.

A therapist who ignores this extremely important point is doing their patient a grave injustice by not allowing them to ever heal fully. This would be tantamount to malpractice on the part of the therapist - every bit as unacceptable as a surgeon neglecting to sew his patient up after surgery.

They wouldn't be able to heal either!

So to hypnotherapy patients: Be careful to ensure that a therapist knows this and is prepared to release you from therapy when the catharsis is reached and to never see you again.

I'll post some more on problems with transference in a later post.

Terry Didcott


Posted on Sat 6 Oct, 2007 in Hypnotherapy | 2 Comments
Last Updated on Mon 9 May, 2022

2 thoughts on "Transference Part 1"

joyce moss says:
8 Oct, 2007

I have been having problems with transference for many years. Would like to know why. It has caused post traumatic depression.

Terry says:
9 Oct, 2007

Joyce, transference usually lasts around 6 months give or take a few months. Its dissolution is a final freeing of the original trauma, not the cause of another.

If you've been having problems with transference for many years, there is only one reason this could be and that is you are still seeing your therapist either professionally or socially. For transference to finally dissolve you must NOT have any further contact with your therapist. No exceptions.