socw6111 discussion question 2 response to 2 students

Respond to at least two colleagues who identified strategies different from your own by proposing alternative strategies.

Response to Hilda

Transference and countertransference are common when working with children because the therapist can envision himself or herself as the savior. They are attempting to save the child from harm or from a bad parent/parents. If the harmer is identified as the parent/parents, the therapist can create a competitive countertransference. According to Malawista (2004) “This form of countertransference, where the therapist has an unconscious competition with the parents may be particularly powerful when it coincides with a child’s own rescue fantasy that the therapist would be a better parent to the child” (p.377). If the therapist self-identifies competitive countertransference to be an issue they should never act on it.

A strategy for transference and countertransference is to prevent rescue fantasies. This prevention can be achieved by not objectifying the parents as bad or as the villain. “When the focus of treatment with children is based on the therapist as the ‘real and good’ object and parents as ‘real and bad’ objects, a therapist/patient countertransference/ transference configuration can emerge in the form of rescue fantasies within the therapeutic dyad” (Malawista, 2004, p. 384). The social worker should not take over the role as the child’s parent/parents. They should provide the parent with tools and resources and give the parents time to develop using those tools. The parent/parents should also be involved in any decisions regarding his/her child. The social worker should never decide the child’s treatment without parental consent.

Another strategy I would use is self-care. The therapist often becomes overworked and too busy to practice self-care. Working with children can lead to exhaustion, burnout, orcompassion fatigue. Consistent daily or weekly self-care is needed. I would use yoga, fishing, and exercise as self-care tools. I would manage my self-care daily to maintain longevity in my profession.


Malawista, K. L. (2004). Rescue fantasies in child therapy: Countertransference/ transference enactments. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal. 21(4), 373–386.

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