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Transference Transferred

As 2017 marks ContactPoint’s 20th anniversary, we wanted to take a look at the most popular sections of our website as well as the most-read articles through a series of blog posts, and reflect on what they say about how the field has evolved over the past two decades.

By Kevin Jackson

It is my pleasure to congratulate ContactPoint on the 20th anniversary of its website. In celebration of the anniversary (2017), I was asked to write a follow-up piece to my 2002 paper “Counselling Transference / Countertransference Issues.” Examining my past work was very enlightening, and I feel it possible in 2017 to write a whole volume on the subject topic, updating and reframing my experiences with transference (similar to projective identification) within the counselling relationship, as well as in day-to-day life. However, I will limit myself to one positive and one negative aspect of my 2002 article.

A positive aspect of the original piece was its simplicity and utility. The article provided, in layman’s terms, a gentle explanation of the concept of transference (and countertransference), and why it is important to be aware of this stream of awareness within the career counselling relationship as it is “a natural, constant element of human interaction, both inside and outside of the psychoanalytic setting” (Waska, 2007, p. 45). Being aware of how we interact with each other on deeper levels may help counsellors to build more collaborative relationships with their clients/patients/students. Yet, after years of experience and study, I found myself becoming more and more critical of how I wrote about people and the “therapeutic” relationship I inadvertently promoted. This brings me to the critique aspect of this piece.

In terms of the negative, my original article overwhelmingly supports a professionalized notion, or implication, that “we” (counsellors) are somehow the de facto psychoanalysts of our respective field. I implied a level of power over other persons that is unwarranted—and this is the greatest folly of my 2002 piece, which subtly attempts to elevate the career counsellor to the status of a psychiatric clinician. This can be highly problematic because we, as professionals, are assigned the task of building collaborative relationships with people that will empower them to reach their goals. Yet, many of us, myself included, have used such psychologizing theories as a means to help empower my/ourselves. We need to be aware that psychologizing the people we work with will not help them reach their goals and will likely damage them in the process.

Yet, conversely, understanding personal motivation is essential to helping clients; yet, how can we do this without relying on complicated (often convoluted) theories of behaviour manipulation in career counselling?  Strangely enough, experience has led me right back to what I briefly studied in college, but failed to incorporate into my practice until over a decade later.

Vance Peavy’s SocioDynamic Counselling was years ahead of its time. It offers the career counsellor a highly effective and culturally sensitive method of working with clients. Briefly stated, SocioDynamic constructivist counselling acknowledges that we all live our lives within multiple, intersecting, social and cultural realities which were/are socially constructed (dynamic). Such realities are not specifically physical, yet they have profound effects/affects on the lives of people (Peavy, 1997, pp. 38-43) which also needs to be a part of the employment counselling discussion. Examples of these socially constructed, yet very ‘real’ dynamics are disability, sex/gender, ethnicity/race and class. Such intersections are often ignored or reduced within career counselling pedagogy perhaps due to the initially complex nature of social constructivism (and interlocking systems of oppression) models. Yet I assert that examination of the social aspects of reality are far more intricate and rewarding than psychologizing theories that generally work to objectify clients as patients rather than a useful model to build collaborative relationships.

In conclusion, while being aware of the mechanics of transference within the counselling relationship is very important, we need to be careful of its limitations and to not to over-emulate such therapeutic theories, treatments and actions of psychologists and psychiatrists. That is not the career counsellor’s role. Indeed, it is my sincere hope that the field of career counselling may find more appropriate “socio-dynamic” underpinnings to its current training model. That said, I wholeheartedly encourage career counsellors to explore the “social” side of reality! And the best part is that you need not to take complicated university courses to understand this method (although an introduction to sociology course would be helpful). I recommend you start by reading Dr Peavy’s SocioDynamic Counselling (1997), followed-up with selected texts on social construction and various sociological models (feminism, gender, disability studies, conflict theories, etc.). I wish you all the best on your journey into the social side of reality!

 

Acknowledgments:

Firstly, I would like to thank my counselling mentor, Pat Goyette. Also, thanks goes out to ContactPoint for providing us with 20 years of great online career development practitioner content and resources. I thank all above for giving me the longitudinal tools and opportunity to critically re-examine and re-focus on the 2002 article with a more thorough lens that over a decade of experience has allowed me to share with you all.

 

References:

Peavy, R. V. (1997). Sociodynamic counselling: A constructivist perspective. Trafford: Victoria, B.C.

Waska, R. (2007). Projective identification as an inescapable aspect of the therapeutic relationship. Psychoanalytic Social Work, 14(2), 43-64.

 

Biography:

Kevin Jackson is one of the key organizers of the Toronto Disability Pride March (TDPM). Formerly, Jackson has been the Vice-Chair of the Ethno-Racial People with Disabilities Coalition of Ontario (ERDCO), board member of the Canadian Disability Studies Association (CDSA-ACEI), Chair of the Psychiatric Survivor Archives of Toronto (PSAT), member of the Lakeshore Asylum Cemetery Project (LACP) and a Mad Pride (2011) organizer. Jackson’s current primary focus is on researching and presenting mad people’s history concealed within psychiatric institutions in Ontario. He is a graduate of the Master’s degree of Critical Disability Studies at York University (2016).

Lucie Morillon
Lucie Morillon is the Bilingual Content & Communications Co-ordinator for CERIC. With a passion for quality content, she connects with her online communities and provides strong resources to engage members – and always encourages new ones to get involved. She identifies, creates and curates the content destined for the ContactPoint website, the weekly CareerWise newsletter and Careering magazine.

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