With any relationship, the boundaries between people can sometimes become blurred. An interaction that has been identified in social work practice as a potential for blurring boundaries is called countertransference. This dynamic occurs when a social worker unconsciously relates to the client’s situation. Perhaps the client reminds the social worker of themselves at a point in their lives or of a close friend. This perspective may result in intense feelings, a narrowing of professional boundaries, and ultimately a weakened client-social worker relationship.
Similarly, these same intense feelings can occur in the client if the client aligns the social worker with an influential person in their life, such as seeing the social worker as a mother figure. This phenomenon is known as transference. Reflect on countertransference and transference and how you might minimize its effects in a social work scenario.
- Define the concepts of countertransference and transference as they relate to working with a client.
- Identify a population or a social issue to which you may personally relate.
- Reflect on and describe how countertransference could negatively impact your relationship with a client who may relate to the population or social issue you identified.
- Reflect on and describe how the client may engage in transference with you for similar reasons. Identify two strategies you would use to address countertransference and/or transference in this scenario.