Drawing on my personal experience of supervision, this paper demonstrates how crucial an analysis of transference may be to the outcome of PhD projects in the discipline of writing in particular. Taken in its specificity, the term ‘transference’ applies strictly to analytic treatment. However, both Freud and Lacan have, in their own ways, pointed to its wider implications for understanding human interactions in the field of pedagogy. Freud’s definition of transference as a ‘displacement from one idea to another’ led Lacan to reconceptualise it in terms of the three registers of the Symbolic, the Imaginary and the Real with reference to the role of ‘the subject supposed to know’ (Freud 1900: 562; Lacan 1977 : 232). Further, over the last twenty years, writing teachers have vigorously discussed the implications of both Freudian and Lacanian models. This paper is in two parts. First, focusing on the Lacanian model, it demonstrates how an analysis of transference between candidate and supervisor may be instrumental to the success of PhD candidatures in writing. Second, it offers three supervision casestudies where transference was particularly problematic in order to identify factors that are critical to the positive outcome of the supervisory relationship, and hence the successful completion of doctorates.