1st Edition

Transference and Countertransference from an Attachment Perspective A Guide for Professional Caregivers

By Una McCluskey, Michael O'Toole Copyright 2020
    136 Pages
    by Routledge

    136 Pages
    by Routledge

    Locating the phenomenon of transference within an evolutionary perspective, this important book develops a new form of dynamic therapy that focuses on the dynamics of attachment in adult life and will be of use to a range of mental health professionals and those at all levels in the caring and education professions.

    Transference and Countertransference from an Attachment Perspective: A Guide for Professional Caregivers explores the ways in which transferential phenomena can be located in the different aspects of the self that are instinctive, goal-corrected and interrelated. At the centre of the book is the idea that when intrapersonal or interpersonal systems (aspects of the self, such as careseeking, caregiving, sharing interests, sexuality, self-defence, building a home) get aroused, the behaviour that follows is only logically and meaningfully connected when the system (aspect of the self) reaches its goal. Placing this new theoretical and clinical approach within the psychoanalytic tradition, the work of developmental psychologists and the field of neuroscience, the book takes us to the heart of the clinical encounter and explores a range of issues including trauma, the effect of early misattunements, love and hate in the therapeutic relationship, burnout in caregivers, and the need for exploratory care for caregivers themselves.

    Building on the therapeutic modality that emerged from the research described in McCluskey's To Be Met as a Person (2005), this book provides a valuable guide for psychologists, psychotherapists, medical practicioners, nurses, social workers, organisational consultants, educators, coaches, and workplace managers.

    The McCluskey model for exploring the dynamics of attachment in adult life which underlies the work described in this book is currently being practised in a variety of settings and with different ages and communities. These include end-of-life care, organizations, homelessness, mental health, dementia care, children, adolescents and families, schools, pastoral work, training of clinical psychologists and attachment-based psychoanalytic psychotherapists, occupational therapy, art therapy, private practice, domestic violence, police training, GP support and consultation, nurse training and support, pain management clinics, foster carers, social workers, couple relationships, supervision of psychotherapists and counsellors, therapeutic communities, and complex grief and learning disabilities.

    1. Transference and countertransference from an attachment perspective: introducing the idea of a keystone system within the dynamic organisation of the self

    2. The dynamics of attachment in adult life

    3. One’s home base: the keystone system to be addressed as the source of the transference

    4. One’s affectionate careseeking self: the keystone system as the source of the transference

    5. One’s defensive self: the keystone system as the source of the transference

    6. One’s internal environment: the keystone system as the source of the transference: an exploration of lack of personal narrative and the presentation of psychosomatic symptoms

    7. Early misattunements re-enacted in a group context: regulating virulence in the transference and countertransference from an attachment perspective

    8. When one’s caregiving self is the keystone system. an exploration of data from McCluskey’s work with over 800 professional caregivers who explored the dynamics of attachment in their own lives

    9. Locating exploratory goal-corrected psychotherapy (EGCP), a new model of attachment-based practice within the tradition of Fairbairnian object relations and the neuroscience relational psychotherapy of today


    Una McCluskey is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of York. She is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, a trainer, consultant, researcher and supervisor. She developed and rated the concept of ‘goal-corrected empathic attunement’ (GCEA), a key factor in the therapeutic alliance and essential in regulating both careseeking and fear. She has developed a model of psychotherapeutic practice based on the dynamics of attachment in adult life, called exploratory goal-corrected psychotherapy (EGCP). This model is relevant to individual, group, and organizational development. She has an international reputation in the attachment field and has developed a community of professionals who are trained and experienced in the practice of EGCP. She has published widely in the field.

    Michael O ‘Toole is a Registered Counselling Psychologist and Psychotherapist. Michael works in private practice in the west of Ireland. He has taught and lectured for many years in the University of Limerick and is currently offering the model presented in this book to trainees at the Bowlby Centre in London. He has published papers exploring clinical dilemmas in the field of attachment.

    ‘The power of this case for “exploratory goal-corrected psychotherapy” (EGCP) lies in the diversity of the issues covered: from the broad sweep of theory to the tiny minutiae of interpersonal interactions, translating the template of mother-infant videoed observation studies to the adult-to-adult psychotherapy domain, from individual to group therapy, we get an integrated perspective which rings true. In short this is vintage McCluskey.’ —Dr. Tirril Harris, Kings College London

    ‘In this original and important work, McCluskey and O’Toole bring insights from Attachment Theory and research and Interpersonal Psychoanalysis to bear on professional care-giving. They show convincingly how tone of voice, prosody, and body posture are preconditions for the goal corrected affect attunement that forms the basis of successful psychotherapies. Their training groups help practitioners to understand their countertransferences, and the origins of defensive caregiving. An accessible and pragmatic volume with vital messages for all serious care-giving professionals.’ —Prof. Jeremy Holmes, University of Exeter

    ‘This new work by Una McCluskey and Michael O’Toole is one of the most encouraging books to emerge in the practice and theory of psychotherapy for a long time. It contains one of the best accounts of a therapeutic relationship in the crisis of reliving and making sense of an original trauma. Stunning, loving and benign. Bravo!’ —Colin Kirkwood, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Edinburgh

    "This is undoubtedly a book which with its abundance of ideas and sophisticated application to practice has a great deal to offer all professional caregivers, and indeed others seeking a better understanding of the myriad challenges which we encounter in our everyday lives." - Kate Wilson, Journal of Social Work Practice