Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Edward L. Trembley

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Betz

Third Advisor

Dr. Robert Brashear


The occurrence of countertransference within the therapeutic relationship has been examined from clinical and empirical perspectives, and considerable insight has been gained regarding the operation and monitoring of these phenomena. Empirical investigation has shown that these attitudes and behaviors can be quantified, and that therapists' increased understanding of the presence of countertransference can result in less countertransference behaviors (Schlesinger, 1984; Robbins & Jolkovski, 1987).

The therapist's sex role orientation is an attribute that has never been considered in relation to countertransference. Bem (1974) and Spence, Helmreich, and Stapp (1975) have proposed conceptualizations for understanding differences in sex role issues and have developed instruments which measure the constructs of individuals' sex role orientations. Such frameworks provide meaningful contexts for the examination of countertransference phenomena in relation to these therapist variables.

This analogue study examines the effects of the sex role orientation of therapists on countertransference behavior, operationalized in this study as withdrawal of therapist involvement, and understood as a negative form of countertransference. Fifty-one graduate students in a counselor training program were randomly selected and assessed for their sex role orientations using the short form of the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) (Bem, 1981a). Using a procedure developed by Jolkovski (1989), they were also asked to view two videotaped client presentations designed to elicit countertransference responses, choosing from multiple choice responses that they would make if they were the client's therapist. The results were analyzed using a one-way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) to determine if differences in sex role orientation are related to levels of countertransference behavior, and in this study no significant differences were found regarding this relationship. Subsequent post-hoc analyses on demographic variables revealed a significant relationship between the number of supervision hours reported by the therapist and amount of countertransference behavior with one of the client presentations. Discussion of possible reasons for nonsignificant results included limitations of the construct used to measure countertransference and suggestions were made for future research.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Counseling Commons