Workshop 6: Transference and Counter-Transference Among Team Members Treating Weight - Related Problem

Date & Time
Thursday, June 14; 15:00-18:00

The Israel Trade Fairs & Convention Center

Prof. Moria Golan, Ph.D
Shahaf- Community-based facilities for weight and body image disorders, Tel Hai Academic
College and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Prof. Latzer Yael, D.Sc
Eating Disorders Clinic, Psychiatric Division, Rambam Medical Center and Faculty of
Social Welfare and Health Sciences, Haifa University, Israel
The treatment of weight-related problems goes beyond symptom management per se; it is more complicated and deceiving and induces stronger feelings than the treatment of any other mental problem. One of the main reasons for this intense emotional atmosphere is the high resistance to acknowledging the impact of the problem on life, the need for weight restoration or other consultation, and most of all, the difficulties of gaining balanced control or of releasing strict control patterns, as well as achieving normal patterns of “becoming full.” Thus, from the beginning, the therapeutic relationships face barriers due to the therapists’ desire to provide more than the patient wishes to get or can hold, since each of them, the patient and the therapist, appraises different values. They may even be in a conflict of interests, from a therapeutic point of view. Clinicians who treat patients with weight-related problems may feel powerful and even opposing feelings such as: fascination, significance, partnership, omnipotence, and spiritual uplifting, as well as pain, anger, inadequacy, and helplessness, or being rejected, overwhelmed, swallowed up, anxious, stressed, frustrated, controlled, or punitive.
Winnicott identified three components of anxiety evoked in therapists when they fail with their clients:9 1) disintegration, (2) disconnection between body and soul, and (3) a feeling that the focus is transferred from the seed to the external cover, from the client to the team, from the individual to the system. Similar to what clients need in a “good enough environment,” which provides holding and adequate self-object relations (mirroring, tension regulation, vitalization, and integration), are the team members’ needs. The milieu they need is a holding environment, where counter-transferential phenomena can be expressed, interpreted, and worked through. Until today, counter-tranferential feelings have not been adequately addressed in theory or in clinical practice, and they comprise barriers to patient compliance and treatment success. This also explains the high burn-out rate among therapists in this field.
• To demonstrate experientially the various feelings evoked while treating weight-related problems
• To discuss universal and personal feelings of transference and counter-transference that surface while treating weight-related problems
• To identify good and less-good dynamics and their impacts on the therapeutic interactions, the therapeutic atmosphere, treatment outcome, and counselor burn-out

Workshop Outline
• Introduction to transference and countertransference in change process
• The emotional difficulties formed during the the treatment of weight-related problems
• Live narrative supervision on a case study brought by one of the workshop participants
• Identification of strategies to manage workplace burn-out