These two phenomenons are the basis of any psychoanalytic therapy and in the case of group therapy, there are three vectors to pay attention to: individual – therapist; group – therapist; individual – group.
The therapist role is a bit controversial in this matter, but the majority of therapists seem to accept that they have a great responsibility in the kind of transferential response manifested by the patients. By transference, we’re talking about a phenomenon of repetition of needs that were not satisfied in the past. This phenomenon will produce an effect on the others, through what we call “projective counter-identification”.
On the other side of things, the countertransference can be just as productive as it can be dangerous, being an amazing tool for the development of empathy, or assuming pathologic features, confusing the therapist and having a bad influence on his relationship with the group.
Although they can have a dangerous effect on a group’s development, these phenomenons have an important function: they enable all of the individuals to develop the ability of recognizing the countertransferential feelings arising in themselves and within the other members of the group. This will help every individual ego with its function of distinguishing what is his and what belongs to someone else. It’s absolutely necessary for a person’s growth (even if it’s often painful) that he or she can recognize what they pass on to other people.