“Thinking it through”: toward a model of reflective practice for trainee psychologists’ countertransference reactions

Claire Cartwright, Jeffrey A. Hayes, Ying Yang, Alice Shires

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective: Understanding and managing countertransference (CT) is challenging for therapists and more so for trainees. This study aimed to understand more about trainees’ experiences of CT; and to consider the usefulness for reflective practice of a five component model of CT (origins, triggers, manifestations, effects, and management) and the importance of feedback. Method: Trainee psychologists in Australia and New Zealand took part in a CT training and were invited to take part in the study. Trainees were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 conditions in which they received regular feedback or feedback at the end of the study. Nineteen trainees completed 93 reflective logs. Data from the logs were analysed using thematic analyses. Results: Most trainees perceived their CT originated from formative experiences and personality qualities and were triggered by client concerns and behaviours. They described a wide range of CT manifestations; and perceived the effects of CT as mainly negative. More trainees in the regular feedback condition, compared to post-completion, engaged with the activity. However, there was no difference in themes that emerged in the two groups. Conclusions: The five-component model of CT provides a method for reflecting on CT and could be used to enhance trainees’ reflective practice. Key Points What is already known about this topic: (1)Little is known about trainee psychologists’ experiences of countertransference although there is evidence that trainees experience difficulties understanding and managing their countertransference reactions. (2)Understanding and managing countertransference supports positive therapy outcomes. (3)Hayes’ (1995) model of countertransference proposes five components–origins, triggers, manifestations, effects, and management. What this paper adds: (1)The study provides greater insight into trainees’ views of the five components of countertransference. (2)Hayes’ (1995) model of countertransference appears to provide a useful model of reflective practice that could be used in post-graduate psychology training. (3)This model is also likely to be useful for psychologists and clinical supervisors in their own practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-180
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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