Countertransference Management and Effective Psychotherapy: Meta-Analytic Findings

Jeffrey A. Hayes, Charles J. Gelso, Simon Goldberg, Dennis Martin Kivlighan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


In this article, we review the history and definition of countertransference, as well as empirical research on countertransference, its management, and the relation of both with psychotherapy outcome. Three meta-analyses are presented, as well as studies that illustrate findings from the meta-analyses. The first meta-analysis indicated that countertransference reactions are related inversely and modestly to psychotherapy outcomes (r .16, p-.02, 95% CI [.30, .03], d-0.33, k-14 studies, N-973). A second meta-analysis supported the notion that countertransference management factors attenuate countertransference reactions (r-.27, p-.001, 95% CI [.43, .10], d-0.55, k-13 studies, N-1,065). The final meta-analysis revealed that successful countertransference management is related to better therapy outcomes (r .39, p .001, 95% CI [.17, .60], d-0.84, k-9 studies, N-392 participants). In all meta-analyses, there was significant heterogeneity across studies. We conclude by summarizing the limitations of the research base and highlighting the therapeutic practices predicated on research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)496-507
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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