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Athens’ trusted source of psychotherapy and counselling.

Free association is a tool used by some psychoanalytic and psychodynamic therapists.

The purpose of free association is to help you understand what you really think and feel about yourself, others, and the situations you are experiencing, versus what you tell yourself you think and feel. 

Note that free association is not used to discover ‘hidden memories”. This is just a popular misconception.

At heart, therapy is a relationship between a client and a therapist. And, like any relationship, sometimes the boundaries can get tricky.

There are two words related to this in therapy – transference and countertransference.

Transference is when you unwittingly put feelings for someone from your past onto your therapist. For example, you might find yourself acting rebellious around your older male therapist, showing up late and being rude. This could be a case of unconsciously identifying your therapist with your rather controlling father (read our piece – “How to Handle Transference‘ – for more).

Countertransference runs the other way.It is when your therapist puts his or her emotions and experiences onto you

When we are ‘conscious’ of something, we are aware of it. So the conscious mind, in psychology, refers to all of the thoughts and memories we have that we know we are having.

The unconscious mind is a psychological concept that addresses the opposite. It refers to the part of our mind that we can’t readily ‘hear’. This includes thoughts and memories that we don’t know we are having, or that we have ‘repressed’ (hidden from ourselves).