Music Therapist’s Inner Imagery to Detect Transference and Countertransference in Session: A Systemic and Phenomenological Approach

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Music therapist Alfonso López-Ruiz, Ph.D., MT, MA

This paper shows how music therapists can help the client by identifying transference and countertransference signals in sessions. Based on Jungian theory and from a systemic and phenomenological approach, it gives examples of how the therapist’s images, his or her sensations during a session, lapses and memory lapses of both the client and the therapist, and emotions such as fear, anger or guilt in countertransference, or dreams and personal experiences of the music therapist, reveal pitfalls that need to be addressed or resolved in order to move forward during the therapeutic process.

Based initially on experiences in Guided Imagery and Music sessions and later on the identification in sessions from other models of Music Therapy and with different populations, as well as during the supervision of other music therapists, it is observed from the phenomenological perspective how the client’s unconscious is in harmony with the unconscious of the music therapist and begins to communicate in the language understood by the therapist (whether archetypal, images, sensations, relational, etc.), so it becomes clear that it is important for the music therapist to be in continuous change and growth to help the patient’s unconscious to be in constant change and growth.

Finally, it shows how to detect and work with different difficulties that prevent the client from evolving or loyalties that prevent him/her from establishing changes in the music therapy sessions, as well as analyzing experiences with former clients in order to improve our music therapy practice, beyond the musical transference and countertransference.

Learner Objectives

  • To identify transference and countertransference in sessions
  • To describe systemic and phenomenological signals
  • To interpret systemic and phenomenological signals

Presenter Biography

Alfonso López-Ruiz, PhD, MA, MT, is trained in the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music and is a Family and Systemic Therapist taking a Plurimodal Approach.