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European Journal of Trauma & Dissociation
Volume 3, n° 3
pages 181-189 (septembre 2019)
Doi : 10.1016/j.ejtd.2019.05.003
Received : 30 September 2018 ;  accepted : 24 May 2019
Research Papers

When the therapist's traumas emerge in a psychotherapy session: The use of trauma-related countertransference

O. Piedfort-Marin a, b,
a University of Lorraine, APEMAC/EPSAM EA 4360, Metz, France 
b Institut Romand de psychotraumatologie, Lausanne, Switzerland 


Trauma therapy implies that therapists work with patients who have experienced difficult and often horrific experiences of violence and neglect. Therapists are not spared from traumatic or adverse experiences, which may impact them in their lives and in their work with trauma patients.


This paper addresses trauma-related countertransference and how therapists can use their own trauma-related activation to understand therapeutic processes and eventually release such processes when blocked.


We present two case studies. The first one illustrates the activation of a dissociative part of the therapist's personality. The second one illustrates the activation of remaining traces of an integrated emotional part of his personality.


Detailed descriptions of therapy sessions illustrate how countertransference may provide the opportunity to learn more about the patients’ issues and how specific interventions based on trauma related countertransference may be a powerful tool in trauma therapies.


The emergence in therapists of patients’ traumatic material may not be due solely to empathy but also to therapists’ own traumatic or adverse experiences, which are activated in the we-centered, shared space of therapy and which may be mediated by the mirror neuron system.

The full text of this article is available in PDF format.

Keywords : Countertransference, Trauma, Dissociative disorder, Psychotherapy, Theory of the structural dissociation of the personality, Mirror neurons

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