• Adrian van Breda University of Johannesburg, Department of Social Work
  • Terry Feller University of Johannesburg, Department of Social Work
Keywords: Countertransference, ethical, social work, student


Countertransference – the emotional reactions that clients trigger in practitioners – can, if not understood or managed, result in unethical conduct and harm to clients, practitioners and the profession. A solid understanding of countertransference theory, insight into one’s own countertransference reactions, and skills in managing countertransference appropriately are vital components of ethical and effective social work practice. This paper reports on a small qualitative study among undergraduate social work students. Results reveal that countertransference is indeed experienced by students, but poorly understood and sometimes inappropriately managed. Recommendations for social work education, field instruction and supervision are provided.



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