School for Social Work
This study explores countertransference experiences of queer clinicians in work with adult female clients in a myriad of settings during their first pregnancies. Twelve clinicians with Master's degrees or higher in the fields of social work, counseling, and psychology participated. In addition, all participants self-identified as queer, lesbian, and/or bisexual women in same-sex relationships. Participants, diverse in age, religion, geographical locations, work settings, and number of years in the field, were fairly homogeneous in ethnic identity, theoretical orientation, and methods used to become pregnant. The qualitative study design, using a flexible, semi-structured interview guide, allowed for an in-depth exploration into the participants' experiences in a way which empowered participants to help shape the interview through sharing their stories and create knowledge in the field regarding this unexplored phenomenon. Thematic analysis of the information gathered resulted in five major sections of findings: demographic information, countertransference during first pregnancy, experiences of countertransference with case vignette individuals, reflections on changes post first pregnancy, and supervision. Two pervasive themes across the findings indicated that (1) participants' therapeutic relationships were each unique making it difficult to compare and speak generally about their experiences; and (2) participants were faced with managing client assumptions about their sexual orientation and relationship status that emerged as a result of the inevitable disclosure of pregnancy. The study implicated a need for supervision that is sensitive to issues of pregnancy and also to sexual orientation. Increased education, training, and research in the field regarding the countertransference experiences of queer clinicians are also implicated.
O'Heron, Rhyannon Leah., "Pregnant queer clinicians : an exploratory study of the countertransference experiences of queer clinicians during their first pregnancies" (2007). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.