Friday, June 18, 2004

Transference and Counter-Transference


Within psychoanalytic theory, there has been a great deal written about the phenomenon of transference, where the client uses the relationship with the therapist to replace something else, and becomes as it were addicted to the therapy/therapist.

A related phenomenon also occurs with management consultancy.


Counter-Transference refers to the phenomenon where the analyst or consultant picks up feelings that are relevant to the interaction with the client.

An inexperienced analyst or consultant may allow these feelings to interfere with the consultation.

An experienced analyst or consultant may be able to use these feelings as useful pointers towards What Is Going On.

Transitional Objects

"Interestingly, consultants and other change agents often become transitional objects for their client firms: The client refuses to ‘let go’, and becomes crucially dependent on the change agent’s advice in relation to every move." [Morgan]

"In helping to facilitate any kind of social change it may thus be necessary for the change agent to create transitional phenomena when they do not exist naturally. Just as father or mother may have to help their child find a substitute for Teddy, a change agent - whether a social revolutionary or a paid consultant - must usually help his or her target group to relinquish what is held dear before they can move on. Significantly, this can rarely be done effectively by ‘selling’ or imposing a ‘change package’, an ideology or a set of techniques. The theory of transitional phenomena suggests that in situations of voluntary change, the person doing the changing must be in control of the process. … If the change agent tries to bypass or suppress what is valued, it is almost sure to resurface at a later date." [Morgan]