Get Alert
Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

Reviews and Overviews   |    
Exploration of the Patient-Therapist Relationship in Psychotherapy
Per Høglend, M.D., Ph.D.
Am J Psychiatry 2014;:. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14010121
View Author and Article Information

From the Division of Mental Health and Addiction, University of Oslo.

Address correspondence to Dr. Høglend (p.a.hoglend@medisin.uio.no).

Copyright © 2014 by the American Psychiatric Association

Received January 31, 2014; Revised April 12, 2014; Accepted April 24, 2014.

text A A A
PDF of the full text article.

Research from several domains indicates that genetic factors, childhood environment, and later interpersonal experiences are important sources of how patients relate to their therapists (transference). Transference work, a core specific technique in psychodynamic psychotherapy, focuses on exploring the patient-therapist relationship, with the idea that this may lead to improvement of the patients’ relationships outside therapy. Many psychotherapy researchers hold the position that specific techniques do not contribute much to the outcome of psychotherapy. However, more than 30 studies have reported significant associations between transference work and outcome. These findings indicate that transference work interventions are indeed active ingredients (for better or worse). Naturalistic studies suggest that a high frequency of transference interventions may have negative effects. Randomized clinical trials indicate that transference-based treatments and alternative treatments work equally well with regard to symptom improvement. However, transference-based treatments appear to be much more effective with regard to interpersonal relations and other measures of personality functioning. The average between-groups effect size for the experimental studies listed in this article was large. Contrary to common clinical wisdom, transference interventions seem to be most important for (mainly female) patients with difficult interpersonal relationships and more severe personality pathology. Gain of insight may be a specific mechanism of change in dynamic psychotherapy, but only one treatment component study has linked transference work directly to gains in insight and subsequent improvement in interpersonal functioning. Research that examines how transference phenomena may be responded to in nondynamic therapies is scarce.

Abstract Teaser
Figures in this Article

Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In Your Session has timed out. Please sign back in to continue.
Sign In to Access Full Content
Sign in via Athens (What is this?)
Athens is a service for single sign-on which enables access to all of an institution's subscriptions on- or off-site.
Not a subscriber?

Subscribe Now/Learn More

PsychiatryOnline subscription options offer access to the DSM-5 library, books, journals, CME, and patient resources. This all-in-one virtual library provides psychiatrists and mental health professionals with key resources for diagnosis, treatment, research, and professional development.

Need more help? PsychiatryOnline Customer Service may be reached by emailing PsychiatryOnline@psych.org or by calling 800-368-5777 (in the U.S.) or 703-907-7322 (outside the U.S.).




CME Activity

There is currently no quiz available for this resource. Please click here to go to the CME page to find another.
Submit a Comments
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of APA editorial staff.

* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe

Related Content
Textbook of Psychotherapeutic Treatments > Chapter 26.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Geriatric Psychiatry, 4th Edition > Chapter 15.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Geriatric Psychiatry, 4th Edition > Chapter 15.  >
Textbook of Psychotherapeutic Treatments > Chapter 2.  >
Textbook of Psychotherapeutic Treatments > Chapter 3.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News
Read more at Psychiatric News >>
APA Guidelines
PubMed Articles