Countertransference. A particular case of projection, used to describe the unconscious emotional response of the analyst to the analysand in a therapeutic relationship. (See also transference.)
A transference is answered by a counter-transference from the analyst when it projects a content of which he is unconscious but which nevertheless exists in him. The counter-transference is then just as useful and meaningful, or as much of a hindrance, as the transference of the patient, according to whether or not it seeks to establish that better rapport which is essential for the realization of certain unconscious contents. Like the transference, the counter-transference is compulsive, a forcible tie, because it creates a “mystical” or unconscious identity with the object[General Aspects of Dream Psychology,” CW 8, par. 519.]
A workable analytic relationship is predicated on the assumption that the analyst is not as neurotic as the analysand. Although a lengthy personal analysis is the major requirement in the training of analysts, this is no guarantee against projection.
Even if the analyst has no neurosis, but only a rather more extensive area of unconsciousness than usual, this is sufficient to produce a sphere of mutual unconsciousness, i.e., a counter-transference. This phenomenon is one of the chief occupational hazards of psychotherapy. It causes psychic infections in both analyst and patient and brings the therapeutic process to a standstill. This state of unconscious identity is also the reason why an analyst can help his patient just so far as he himself has gone and not a step further.[“Appendix,” CW 16, par. 545.]