The dynamics and management of erotic transference in the psychotherapeutic setting : a review

Abrahams, Zoe (2005-12)

Thesis (MA (Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2005.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Sexual relationships in the psychotherapeutic setting have always been regarded as unethical and sexual attraction between therapist and client has generally proved to be awkward and anxiety provoking for those involved. Although research indicates that these relationships do occur, and that sexual feelings between therapists and clients are not infrequent, there is little conceptual clarity on the dynamics thereof. Consequently, the available guidelines and ethical rules regulating such sexual contact generally take the form of “thou shalt not…” and provide limited assistance to therapists in managing such situations in a manner that protects the integrity of the therapeutic relationship. This review assumes the presence of the psychodynamic phenomenon of transference in all psychotherapeutic relationships, and constructs sexual attraction and contact as the product of the sub-concept of erotic transference. Against this background, the review presents the dynamics of erotic transference in terms of its nature, impact and management. On this basis, current ethical codes and training issues are reviewed, guidelines for proper prevention and management are suggested and important directions for future research are identified.

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