Transference is the unconscious shifting of feelings from someone in the patient's personal life to the therapist. Transference allows the patient to understand and resolve previously "unfinished business" from past relationships. As therapy progresses, childhood feelings and conflicts begin to surface from the unconscious. A patient may unconsciously transfer feelings of love, sexuality, hostility, or any number of other emotions onto the therapist during the process of therapy. If the therapy is to produce real change, the transference relationship must be worked through.
The transference situation is considered valuable because it allows the patient an opportunity to re-experience a variety of feelings that would not otherwise be accessible to them. By using the therapist as a safe or neutral object to express these wishes, beliefs, and desires, patients are able to change some of their long-standing patterns of behavior.
The analysis of transference is an important technique in psychoanalytic therapy because it allows the patient to achieve present-moment insight into past relational issues. As the therapist interprets the transference process for the patient, he or she can work with the insights to make changes in desired areas.
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