Transference-Countertransference: Where the (Political) Action Is. Academic Article uri icon


  • Action theory (AT), an emergent paradigm in academic psychology, depicts individuals as actively shaping their environment, development, and well-being. Although implicit in several psychoanalytic and integrative formulations, to date AT has not been formally linked to the psychotherapy integration movement. Focusing on a relatively overlooked tenet of AT whereby human action is pervasively "political" (i.e., power related), the author proposes that in the context of transference-countertransference exchanges, patient and therapist exercise power over each other to realize core personal projects. Awareness of this "2-person politics" has the potential to enhance integrative psychotherapy by increasing (a) sensitivity to, and use of, inevitable patient-therapist power struggles; (b) appreciation of the simultaneously oppressive and empowering nature of cognitive, behavioral, and strategic techniques; and (c) reliance on supervisors, peers, and consultants who serve as mediators of patients' and therapists' political agendas. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

publication date

  • January 1, 2004