How Should Clinicians Respond to Transference Reactions with Cancer Patients?
AMA Journal of Ethics, May 2017
Patients with cancer can feel particularly vulnerable and need special attention and support, so clinicians' attention to transference reactions-theirs and their patients-is especially important. Mismanaged transference reactions can undermine the therapeutic alliance in the patient-clinician relationship and negatively influence treatment outcomes. In oncology settings, real and perceived needs of patients in serious distress can occasion modification of usual outpatient protocols, particularly when flexible scheduling or home or hospital visits are warranted. Here, we comment on a case in which transference reactions of a young woman with cancer prompt her to terminate treatment. We discuss the importance of clinicians' recognizing and managing transference and countertransference, maintaining boundaries, and responding with empathy and integrity to cancer patients' concerns.
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