Countertransference Teaching: The Challenge of Going Beyond Literature: A Novel Approach

Main Article Content

Owen Lewis, MD


While countertransference in its various definitions has become central to psychoanalytic theory and practice, and countertransference is acknowledged as central to most care-giving practices, the opportunities to know and explore countertransference in most mental health training programs is limited. Applying approaches of Narrative Medicine didactics, this paper proposes and demonstrates how the group study of clinically relevant literature (novels and short stories) under guided discussion can lead to the identification and exploration of countertransference reactions. The scope of this paper is to report on a single class taught for ten years using literature to teach adolescent development with the finding that it became a forum to explore various countertransference arising in psychotherapies with adolescents, an approach that can be broadly applied.

Article Details

How to Cite
LEWIS, Owen. Countertransference Teaching: The Challenge of Going Beyond Literature: A Novel Approach. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 1, jan. 2024. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 03 mar. 2024. doi:
Research Articles


1. Blos P. Intensive psychotherapy in relation to the various phases of the adolescent period, in Esman An (ed) The Psychoaalytic Treatment of Adolescents, International University Press, New York. 1983: 71-88.
2. Bohleber W. The concept of intersubjectivity in psychoanalysis: taking critical stock. Int J of Psychoanalysis. 2013; 94: 799-823.
3. Caracci G. Teaching countertransference to residents: a survey. J Am Ac of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry. 1997; 25(3): 617-621.
4. Charon R. Williams P, eds. Special Theme Issue: The humanities and medical education. Acad Med. 1995; 70:758-813.
5. Conklin L. The black winter of new England. Rainbow, Rainbow, Catapult, New York. 2022: 31-56.
6. Diaz J. Ysrael. Drown. Riverhead Books, New York 1996: 3-20.
7. Diaz J. The pura principle. This Is How You Lose Her. Riverhead Books, New York 2012: 91-118.
8. Evison J. Lawn Boy. Algonquin Books, Chapel Hill, 2018.
9. Frank A. The Diary of a Young Girl (definitive edition). Anchor Books, New York, 1996.
10. Freud A. Adolescence. The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child. 1958; 13: 255-278.
11. Freud S. The future prospects of psychoanalytic therapy (1910). Standard Edition. 1955; IX, Hogarth Press, London: 144-145, 1955.
12. Gabbard G. The role of countertransference in contemporary psychiatric treatment. World Psychiatry. 2020; 19(2): 243-2442.
13. Laufer M, Laufer ME. Adolescence and Developmental Breakdown. 1984, Yale University Press, New Haven.
14. Lewis O. The paranoid-schizoid position and pathologic regression in early adolescence. J Am Acad Psychoanalysis. 1987; 15(4): 503-519.
15. Lewis O. The depressive position and middle adolescence: developmental and therapeutic considerations. J Am Acad Psychoanalysis. 1989; 17(3): 377-395.
16. Lewis O. Adolescence, social development, and psychotherapy. Am J of Psychotherapy. 1993; 47(3): 332-333.
17. Liegner E. Focused countertransference exploration in classroom teaching of modern psychoanalytic candidates,” Clinical Social Work Journal 2007; 35(4): 277-286.
18. Marshall R. Countertransference in the psychotherapy of children and adolescents. Contemporary Psychoanalysis. 1979; 15(3): 595-629.
19. Offer D, Ostrov E, Howard K. Adolescence: what is normal? Am J Dis Child. 1989; 146(6): 731-736.
20. McCullers C. The Member of the Wedding. Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 1946.
21. Nadler R. Utilizing reflected countertransference: applying the reflection process as a teaching tool in supervision. Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal 1976; 21(3): 145-150.
22. Price T, Roberts C, Fatollahi J, Gandhi B. Teaching professionalisms and countertransference to psychiatric residents. Psychiatric Annals. 2016; 46(5): 298-302.
23. Rollhaus E, private communication; 2023.
24. Spiegel R. Development of Sullivan’s theory of participant observer. Contemporary Psychoanalysis. 1977; 13(3): 372-376.
25. Tarnopolsky A. Teaching countertransference. Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis. 1995; (3(2): 293-313.
26. Tyson R, Tyson P. The concept of transference in child psychoanalysis. Journal of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry. 1986; 25(1): 30-39.