Thursday, December 8, 2016

Recent APA Journal Explores Psychological Impact of Diabetes

With nearly three decades of experience in academic psychiatry, Dr. Gregg Gorton currently serves as an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In addition to his teaching role, Dr. Gregg Gorton also maintains active membership in the American Psychiatric Association.

The most recent issue of the American Psychological Association publication, American Psychologist, explores the psychological factors that play into the mental health of persons suffering from diabetes, as well as those who have a high risk of developing the disease. The issue also explores program-based intervention as well as methods of identifying and treating mental health conditions linked with diabetes. In total, this special issue contains 10 separate articles by researchers exploring the psychological implications of at-risk and current diabetes patients.

Since the psychology field spans a wide range of disciplines, psychologists are well-equipped to provide mental health care and support to diabetes sufferers and their families, especially younger patients. By helping these patients deal with the psychological burden that can come with diagnosis, diabetes sufferers are better able to handle the stringent care routines that often accompany the condition.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Countertransference in the Psychiatrist-Patient Relationship

As a faculty member of Temple University School of Medicine's psychiatry department, Dr. Gregg Gorton builds on 30 years as a clinical educator. Dr. Gregg Gorton has presented courses and lectures on a variety of topics, including professional conduct and ethics as well as boundary setting in the therapeutic relationship.

Countertransference exists as a pervasive phenomenon in psychiatry. It occurs when the psychiatrist experiences an unconscious reaction to a patient, which then affects future interactions within the dyad. The concept stems from the psychodynamic principle of transference, in which a client translates feelings from outside relationships onto his or her interactions with the psychiatrist. Countertransference is the same phenomenon but sourced from the experience of the psychiatrist, who must be aware of and in control of the process to avoid harm to the therapeutic relationship.

To understand their countertransference, psychiatrists must assess whether the countertransference stems from the patient's behavior or from their own experiences. Countertransference feelings and behaviors that arise from unrelated prior experience are typically not helpful in understanding a patient. Nevertheless these same countertransference feelings may be useful to the psychiatrist in his or her professional development, which requires the skill to set aside personal difficulties and focus on the client.

Countertransference may be immediately helpful, however, when it reveals a patient's particular behavioral process. For example, feelings of resistance or repulsion in the psychiatrist may stem from the patient's tendency to alienate others, which the psychiatrist can then identify and address. It is only by assessing countertransference experiences and identifying their sources that the psychiatrist can learn to use those experiences therapeutically.