The Many Types of Transference in Therapy

transferrence by kaspars
transferrence by kaspars

Transference is a common phenomenon you may see in therapy. However, you may have no idea what it means. Let’s talk about it.

What is Transference?

When you visit your therapist, you are visiting someone who you  don’t know. Because of this, some clients may end up projecting a figure onto them.

For example, one type of transference that is common is parental. This is when you associate your therapist with your mother or father. You may treat your therapist as an authority figure or as someone who you should fear because of this.

There is also countertransference. This is when a therapist transmits their own feelings.

The Types of Transference

Besides parental, what other types of transference can happen?

Besides your mother and father, it’s also possible to look at a therapist as your sibling, especially if they are in that age range. This can also happen if you don’t have much of a relationship with your parents.

Sometimes, it may not be familial at all. Instead, you may view them as a friend  or another figure.

Also, there’s sexualized transference. As the name entails, this is when you look at a therapist in a sexual way, even though you realize it’s not appropriate to do this to your therapist!

Sometimes, it’s more of an archetype. You may look at the therapist as a wise sage whose words are true. However, you may look at them as someone who has it out for you and who is your antagonist.

Countertransference Types

While therapists are trained to be neutral in their relationships, they are only human. It’s quite possible, and more common than you think, that the therapist may start to project their own feelings onto the client.

They may treat the client like their own child. This can lead to several issues, such as the therapist not being able to separate parenting from therapy. The therapist may also be unable to be neutral if the client has beliefs that the therapist finds offensive.

It’s also possible the therapist develops feelings for the client, which can be costly.

Not All Transference is Bad

If the client views the therapist like an all-knowing sage, then they are more likely to listen to the therapist and try what the therapist prescribes to them.

Also, if the therapist views the client as a child, they may want the client to succeed and will help them any way they can.

When transference becomes negative, it’s important for a therapist to educate their client and for the client to journal their feelings. This way, the client can learn to be more mindful of their feelings.

As for countertransference, the therapist should also learn to be more mindful and to avoid any relationships that may be problematic to the therapist/client dynamic.

It can be a complicated relationship, especially when both sides have their own transference going on. In the end, it’s important for you to be mindful of what is going on and see if there are any ways to avoid it.

Online Therapy Can Help

If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or another mental health problem, and you are prone to transference, online therapy may be able to help you.

You can pick a therapist who is the least like your parents, siblings, or other people who you may not like. In addition, due to the barrier between you and your therapist, there is less likely of a chance of countertransference.

Check out online therapy website BetterHelp to learn more about the transference definition and how you can be able to get the help you need.

complementary and alternative medicine therapies: is there a point to them?Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

Feature Image by kaspars7


  • Oceania Luxury Travel Co Luxury Travel Australia Banner 728x90 1