Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This qualitative study explores the interplay between clinician gender and experiences of countertransference (CT) in treatment of clients diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The central hypothesis of this study is that constructions of gender will influence experiences of CT in the treatment of BPD clients, therefore having a meaningful effect on the therapeutic relationship and clinical treatment. Utilizing twelve qualitative individual interviews with clinicians who have treated clients diagnosed with BPD, this study examined clinicians' perceptions of treatment, including experiences and management of psychodynamic phenomena. The study also explored clinicians' use of different theoretical and treatment models, their views on the importance of therapist gender and the need for supervision when working with this population. Major findings reveal that gender identity is meaningful in the countertransference experiences of clinicians treating BPD clients due to the pervading assumptions and stereotypes held by both clinicians and clients. Findings point to the need for clinicians to be more aware of transference and countertransference scenarios that do and do not align with their manifest or traditional gender roles, especially due to the relationship and identity issues common of BPD clients. Additional findings suggest that erotic countertransference appears especially difficult for women clinicians treating BPD clients, whereas men clinicians may need to explore pre-oedipal transference and countertransference in working with BPD clients.


Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2008. iii, 72 p. Includes bibliographical references (p. 61-65)