Countertransference as a Prototype: The Development of a Measure

Christy D. Hofsess, Terence Tracey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Countertransference is a concept that is widely acknowledged, but there exists little definitional consensus, making research in the area difficult. The authors adopted a prototype theory (E. H. Rosch, 1973a, 1973b; see C. B. Mervis & E. Rosch, 1981, for a review) to examine this construct because it conceptually fits well with constructs that elude explicit definition. In Study 1, 45 experienced psychologists highly agreed with the prototypicality of 104 different examples of countertransference providing support for the presence of a prototype. In Study 2, the usage of this prototype in a sample of 35 trainees was related to ability to perceive countertransference in a case example drawn from the literature and positively correlated with self-reports of their experiences of countertransference but not with their self-reported ability to manage countertransference once it was manifest. Implications for training and research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-67
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of counseling psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • cognitive assessment
  • counselor development
  • countertransference
  • prototype methodology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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