transference awareness for teachers

Transference can be frustrating for teachers and students

“Transference” refers to any distortion of a present relationship because of unresolved and mostly unconscious issues left over from early relationships, especially with the parents in childhood.

All distortion of the interaction between teacher and student, between boss and worker, in fact any hierarchical relationship by the needs and behaviors that were most meaningful in childhood are forms of transference. When the manifestation is in the student — e.g., a child being distracted by the teacher’s smelling of after shave, which reminds her of both her father. — It’s just “transference.”

When the manifestation is in the teacher — e.g., the teacher insisting that the student was so distracted — it’s properly called “counter-transference. Analytical Hypnotherapy makes it apparent to the patient how neurotic tendencies from earlier life are distorting relationships in the here and now. The analysis and treatment of the “transference neurosis” is thus often described as the essence of psychoanalytic therapy.

What if teachers were formally made aware the phenomenon of transference and in so doing at least provides them with a tangible handle on situations arising nowadays in classrooms where a large number of the students are coming from broken homes? Teachers are simply not equipped to deal effectively with the anger and resentment being vented on them by children simply trying to resolve issues with their parents. Teachers and students alike are left at the mercy of unconscious reactions with sometimes disastrous results not least of which being the number of children leaving the school system with sometimes the barest of education which ill equips them for the challenges facing them in their lives.

For a teacher to be in a position to impart knowledge effectively, for the student to learn effectively such interference or distraction would need to be kept to a minimum. Education however is not a clinical imparting of knowledge from a teacher to the brain of a student like a tap filling a sink, but rather education is a preparation for life and this would surely mean equipping the child to deal with transference relationships.

By educating the teacher we empower him, by showing him how to see what lies behind the erratic behavior of the child and make education a more meaningful exercise.

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