Managing religious countertransference in clinical settings
Ongoing self-reflection is essential for managing religious countertransference successfully. A psychiatrist needs to maintain awareness of ways in which the dialogue and qualities of relationships with patients can evoke emotions from personal encounters with religion. It is important to distinguish sources of aversive responses, whether they be negative past religious experiences, a sense of incompetence in dealing with religious issues, or internalized professional beliefs and attitudes that are stigmatizing. For each of these, specific strategies can be employed to limit the influence of religious countertransference. Particularly useful are deconstructive questions that open dialogues not about the truth or falsity of a religious belief but about the patient's past life experiences and current commitments of loyalty that anchor its meaning. When negative religious countertransference is managed successfully, possibilities for a reflective dialogue can begin to open. It may then become easier to discuss directly and frankly the patient's religious beliefs and practices and their effects on the clinical problem at hand.
Griffith, J. (2006). Managing religious countertransference in clinical settings. Psychiatric Annals, 36 (3). http://dx.doi.org/10.3928/00485713-20060301-03