Toward an Analysis of Sex-Role-Related Issues in the Therapeutic Relationship

  • Alexandra G. Kaplan


In the extensive literature on transference and countertransference, there is a notable absence of any discussion related to the impact of the sex of patient and therapist on the clinical process (Berman, 1972; Berzins, Welling, and Wetter, 1978). The implicit assumption is that clinical dynamics transcend such reality components as the sex of patient or therapist, especially in the more analytically oriented therapies (Seiden, 1976). But this assumption should be open to serious reexamination. Freud (1931) suggested that there may be certain content areas that would be differentially revealed by the patient depending upon the sex of the therapist. In acknowledging his difficulty in grasping the nature of the preoedipal relationships between his female patients and their mothers, Freud concluded, “It does indeed appear that women analysts—as, for instance, Jeanne Lampl-de Groot and Helene Deutsch—have been able to perceive these facts more easily and clearly because they were helped in dealing with those under their treatment by the transference to a suitable mother-substitute” (pp. 226–227).


Therapeutic Relationship Woman Patient Female Therapist Male Therapist Differential Socialization 
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© William Alanson White Psychiatric Foundation, Inc. 1979

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  • Alexandra G. Kaplan

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