Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Transference (Psychology), Countertransference (Psychology), Ideals (Psychology), Kohut, Heinz, Slochower, Joyce Anne, 1950-, Qualitative research, Transference, Countertransference, Idealization, Idealizing transference, Idealizing countertransference


This qualitative study explores the ways that therapists describe and address the idealizing transference in therapeutic encounters. It also explores how clients utilize the idealizing transference and how clinicians view their participation in the idealizing transference. The study was based on interviews conducted with 12 licensed therapists, all of whom have been practicing for a minimum of two years. Other topics explored were: Are certain clients more susceptible to idealization? Is there always a "fall from grace"? Do therapists experience idealizing countertransference? The findings of this research study revealed that 10 out of 12 clinicians felt that tolerating the idealizing transference, therefore providing unmet needs for their client, was more important than interpreting the idealizing transference as a defense. Eleven out of 12 of the participants were able to describe how they addressed the idealizing transference in therapy. Common themes included: holding the transference, tolerating discomfort, openly discussing the transference with the client, acting as a place to "store" qualities that the client is unable to acknowledge in herself, and allowing it to "run its course."




iii, 73 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 59-64)

Limited Access until August 2020