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What is transference and projection?

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August 14, 2006 6:35PM

Transference is a phenomenon in psychology characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings of one person to another. For instance, one could mistrust somebody who resembles an ex-spouse in manners, voice or external appearance; or be overly compliant to someone who resembles a childhood friend. In a therapy context, transference refers to redirection of a client's feelings from a significant person to a therapist. Counter-transference is defined as redirection of a therapist's feelings toward a client, or more generally as a therapist's emotional entanglement with a client. Transference was first described by Freud, who acknowledged its importance for psychoanalysis for better understanding of the patient's feelings. Transference is often manifested as an erotic attraction towards a therapist. It's also common for people to transfer feelings from their parents to their partners (emotional incest) or to children (cross-generational entanglements). Although transference is often characterized as a useful tool for building trust between a client and a therapist, transference can also interfere with a therapist