Transference refers to the displacement of emotions from one person to another during the treatment, as when feelings for a parent are transferred to the analyst or feelings about siblings are transferred to fellow group members; the process by which a patient responds to the therapist as if the therapist were a relevant person in the patient's life.

It is a key phenomenon in psychoanalytic therapy in which the patient reacts to the therapist as if the therapist represented an important figure from the patient's past. It occurs when clients start relating to their therapist in ways that mimic critical relationships in their lives.