Countertransference and Trauma: Self-Healing and Training Issues (IN: Handbook of Post-Traumatic Therapy, edited by M B Williams & J F Sommer)
This chapter first briefly reports some of the major findings of a study that systematically examined the nature of the emotional responses & other problems experienced by psychotherapists in working the Nazi Holocaust survivors & their offspring. It then discusses ways of using these findings preventively & therapeutically. Participants in this study were 61 psychotherapists, 40 women & 21 men. Countertransference themes discussed include: bystander guilt, rage, dread & horror, shame & related emotions, grief & mourning, victim/liberator, viewing the survivor as a hero, “me too”, sense of bond, privileged voyeurism, & defense. The implications of these responses for training & self-care are discussed. A training exercise to process event countertransference is provided as are some principles of self-healing.