An important aspect of psychotherapy, especially psychoanalytic and psychodynamic counselling, is a phenomenon known as transference. Put simply, this is when we 'transfer' a feeling from a situation or person in our past to a similar situation in the counselling session.
As human beings our feelings are crucial to our survival and bring meaning and richness to our lives. Fear, for example, can help keep us safe, joy in sex can ensure human reproduction, compassion can enable helping others and ourselves, and anger can give us the energy to make changes in our lives when something is not right for us.
As babies, then growing through infancy to childhood and even into adulthood strong feelings can be provoked by certain people in our lives (often Mum and Dad, and brothers and sisters), and in certain situations...
In effective counselling the counsellor and client form a bond through which they together carry out the common task of the therapy - that is to help the client heal and grow. This is known as the 'working alliance'.
This working alliance plays a vital role in the therapy. The ongoing communication between the client and counsellor gives momentum and power to the therapy. Wright and Davis (1994:27) described the working alliance like this ‘…in simple terms it refers to the personal qualities of the patient, personal qualities of the therapist, and the interactions between them’.
In his classic children’s book ‘Charlotte’s Web’, E.B.White (1963) tells the story of a friendship between a spider (Charlotte) and a pig (Wilbur), and how their relationship enabled them to save Wilbur’s life and protect Charlotte’s ‘children’. However, the story also provides a useful metaphor to how a strong working alliance can help the therapy.
Perhaps the most important aspect of both Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Psychodynamic Counselling, is that they both strive to better understand the patient, and it is this deeper understanding, and the therapist and patient process of uncovering it, that paves the way to healing.