Countertransference in the treatment of women with histories of incest
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Therapists' countertransference reactions to incest victims were examined utilizing an analogue methodology involving videotaped psychotherapy vignettes. These reactions were compared to a control group who responded to a comparable vignette of a patient with a history of physical abuse. Hypotheses were made about the differences in countertransference reactions as a function of which type of abuse subjects were exposed to, their attitudes toward women and their gender.;The sample included 85 advanced level Doctoral students in Clinical Psychology. The videotaped vignettes were counterbalanced so that 45 subjects saw the incest tape and 40 subjects saw the physical abuse tape. After viewing their respective tapes, all the subjects responded to a scale which included three sections which were developed from three different sources. The first part of the scale was developed by the present author to assess therapists' reactions to female patients with histories of childhood incestuous and physical abuse. The second part involved a modification of Gold's (1987) Personal Data Form (PDF) which provides data on demographic and experiential information. The last section of the scale comprised the Therapists' Attitudes Toward Women Scale (TAWS) developed by Sherman, Koufacos and Kenworthy (1978).;A series of Hierarchical Set-Wise, Step-Wise Multiple Regression Analyses revealed significant effects for all three of the quasi-independent variables. Two hypotheses were confirmed by the results of this analysis indicating that, as expected, subjects who saw the incest tape reported feeling significantly more intrigued and sexually excited than the physical abuse subjects did. Subjects' gender and attitudes toward women affected other reactions, which had not been hypothesized. Among these findings, male subjects reported feeling more sexually attracted to the patients than female subjects did. A number of other professional and personal therapist factors were found to determine countertransference to both incest and physical abuse victims. These included extent of clinical experience, extent of training dealing with abuse, theoretical orientation, personal experiences of abuse and race.