Counterresistance Its Manifestation and Impact on Group Intervention and Management

Carla Penna

COUNTERRESISTANCE

The concept of counterresistance was introduced by Racker (1958). Often in analytic work we do not communicate to the patient some of our observations and our understanding of the psychodynamic process. Sometimes this abstention seems appropriate given one's understanding of group technique; at other times, an emotive factor is at play, which is not conducive to an intervention, since one perceives the risk of setting in motion an undesirable process at that moment in the treatment. Resistances on the part of the psychotherapist, referred to as counterresistance, usually coincide with the patient's resistance to the same situation, highlighting the most important areas of conflict for the patient. In other words, counterresistance is defined as the expression of an identification on the part of the analyst with a resistance of the patient, even when, at the same time, it relates to the analyst's own areas of conflict. It differs and is distinct from countertransference, since as a concept, it specifically refers to the manifestations of resistance that occur during treatment.

According to Zimmerman (1993), the phenomena of counterresistance in groups becomes more complex, since the clinician can establish unconscious pacts with part or with the totality of the group. Generally, these resistive unconscious pacts emerge when the group leader avoids certain topics or manifestations of aggression or sexual ity in the sessions while aiming to preserve some group equilibrium. The psychotherapeutic group can still make use of premature or pacifying interventions that would be at the service of a repressive act, preventing the free flowing course of group psychotherapy. In this way, the act of counterresistance on the part of the therapist can prevent group members from experiencing important group processes, thus not allowing fundamental empathic or reparatory experiences to occur within the group.

Utilizing the concept of counterresistance as a base, the author will attempt to describe, in a clinical vignette, how the perception of this phenomenon (by the therapist) and the accompanying clarifying intervention within the group can move the group process forward.

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