Transference can be the duct tape that binds the psychotherapy universe together.
One of the interpretations of my mostly positive, idealizing transference was to use my therapist as a role model. This is similar to Social Learning Theory where people can learn new behavior through reinforcement, punishment and observational learning and are then more likely to model, imitate, and adopt the behavior themselves. This occurs through four stages; close contact, imitation of superiors, understanding of concepts and role model behaviour.
Albert Bandura, expanding on this theory, studied patterns of behaviour associated with aggression by conducting the Bobo doll experiment in 1961. Seventy-two 3-6 year olds were divided into two groups. Two thirds were placed in a room with an adult and Bobo the doll where the adult hit and kicked the doll and the other third was placed in a control group. In a nutshell, Bandura found that the children exposed to the aggressive model were more likely to act out in physically aggressive ways than those who were not exposed to the aggressive model.
So if in therapy I am exposed to someone who deals with life by displaying good manners and an unruffled aura in a situation where appalling manners and a decidedly undignified process of behaviour is apparent; then by the wisdom of social learning theory, good role model behaviour by my therapist will begat new thought processes, schemas, beliefs and behavioural patterns by me, the emotionally-dysregulated client. A classic case of monkey see, monkey do.
For me, mirroring this process was at first largely unconscious in the real world until I related the stories in therapy and realised I had well and truly kept my wits and composure about me. Similar situations would then compound on themselves. As well my therapist would tell me personal stories of adverse situations where clarity and coolheadedness were required. In a similar situation where I would explode, burn my bridges and later have serious regrets, she would be able to stay calm, centred and (most importantly) in control – move on, regret nothing and remain the person she always was.
When I deliberately started to imitate her behaviour, after a …