What is the concept of parental 'emotional transference' to children? A Walker and Avant concept analysis

Scand J Caring Sci. 2019 Mar;33(1):34-42. doi: 10.1111/scs.12614. Epub 2018 Oct 17.


Problem: Human emotions come from relationships with others, and emotional states can be transferred to others through emotional transfer, leading people to experience identical emotions unconsciously. Emotional transference is not a new concept; however, no concept analysis has been performed on emotional transference from parents to children.

Eligibility criteria: A literature search was conducted of terms related to 'emotional transference', (e.g. 'emotional transfer' and 'affective transference') in the following databases: PubMed, CINAHL, ProQuest, RISS and DBPIA published between 1987 and 2016; documents were published in English or Korean.

Sample: Forty-four studies met review criteria.

Results: This review highlighted analysis of the concept of emotional transference from parent to child, a unidirectional process. The apparent attributes which are of importance to the child during parental interaction consist of parental expression (facial, voice, postural), child's interpretation of parental emotional expression and child's emotional formation.

Conclusions: Understanding parental emotional transference to children is very important in effecting positive outcomes in the nursing environment.

Implications: Nurses need to be aware that parental emotional transference to children and its attributes essential to assessment and intervention. Further study and education are needed to develop nursing care for children.

Keywords: concept analysis; emotional transference; literature review; paediatrics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Transference, Psychology*
  • Young Adult