Transference, transference interpretations, and transference-focused psychotherapies

Kenneth N. Levy, J. Wesley Scala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The concept of transference and the use of transference interpretations in psychotherapy have been highly controversial topics garnering frequent attention both within psychoanalysis and across multiple orientations of psychotherapy. In this article, we review the empirical evidence as it bears on this controversy and discuss the implications of the evidence for psychoanalysis, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and therapy in general. We provide a brief historical and contextual overview, followed by a discussion of the development of the concept of transference. We then discuss the evidence for the concept of transference from basic psychological research and contend that these findings are not only consistent with a social-cognitive and information processing model, but that they may also indicate conflict and defensive processes suggestive of a dynamic transference process model. We continue with a discussion of the evidence for the concept of transference from psychotherapy research and examine process findings relating to the use of transference interpretations and transference-focused psychotherapies. Finally, we present the implications of this emerging evidence for clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-403
Number of pages13
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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