Psychology Word of the Week: Transference


A phenomenon characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another.

Welcome to the first installment of Psychology Word of the Week!  In this segment, we'll explore words from various modalities that I think will be great to highlight from time to time.  Generally, I will have a strong personal liking towards them, but I will also try to bring in concepts from all ends of the therapy spectrum.

My overall motivation for writing this blog is to educate any folks out there about some core principles of psychology and therapy. 

But, why?

Well, therapy can be a BIG unknown to some people who have never experienced it for themselves.  Some people may have experience in therapy and still have no idea what it's all about.  This is a problem because without knowledge, people will not utilize therapy.  Without therapy, people may never grow through their mental health issues that can linger throughout their lives.  These poor folks can carry depression, anxiety, PTSD, personality disorders, substance abuse disorders, etc. without any hope that their lives can change.

Ergo, problem.

My solution is to bring this world closer to some curious folks with the ultimate goal of making it a less scary place.  Through this, we can work at defusing the stigma around seeking therapy and offer new solutions to people that can use them.  And, if it becomes common place to freely talk about seeking therapy and even tell your boss, "I've been feeling a bit off lately and I think I need to leave early today to see my therapist", I'm happy to take all the credit.

Just kidding.  

Well, only about taking credit.  That would be awesome if we could talk like that.

But now, transference:

What is transference?  Transference is a pretty simple concept from our dear friend Mr. Freud, but it can have an infinitely valuable impact on your relationship with your therapist.  As the definition states at the top of the page, it is a redirection of feelings from one person to another.  That sounds bland, but the concept is pretty amazing.  In a therapeutic relationship, we examine this particular concept whenever feelings of lust or love from the client are placed on the therapist.  Do you REALLY have a crush on your therapist?  Or is there something about his or her role or presence in your relationship that baited those feelings out in you?  Perhaps he or she is a good listener and non-judgmental (common traits of a good mate).  Perhaps this person reminds of your mother (now we're really getting into Freud).  This concept can have immense importance because it can be applied to any feeling.  If a person in front of you makes you feel angry, sad, insignificant, grandiose, lust, love; those feelings may be misplaced from someone else.  If they are, then who does this person in front of you symbolize?  And how does that influence your behavior towards him or her?


Thank you for reading and as always,
please feel free to contact me to start your therapy today.