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Re: tranference or real feelings? (***SI trigger** » wishingstar

Posted by Tamar on March 11, 2006, at 17:30:29

In reply to tranference or real feelings?, posted by wishingstar on March 10, 2006, at 21:24:39

> How do you know if something is "just transference" or real?

I reckon anything that’s transference is also very real and often very distressing.

> I told my T on tuesday that I was feeling like hurting myself in order to get her attention becase I dont feel like shes hearing me at all. Whenever I mention feeling unsafe or other serious things, its like she barely hears it, and never asks later if I'm okay. I have a history of suicide attemps and SI so I just wish she'd ask..

Yeah, I can imagine that. And I’d say if you feel unsafe, it’s not “just transference”. Part of her job (IMHO) is helping you to feel safe enough to talk about the difficulties you’re having. I don’t see how you can do much work in therapy if you’re not feeling safe enough to talk. On the other hand, therapists do have to be careful not to take responsibility for our actions (like self injury). When I told my T about cutting myself after therapy his first question was, “What did you use?” But he also asked me what feelings and thoughts I was having when I cut myself, and I definitely felt he cared about it.

> But when I finally told her I wasnt feeling heard (in a note) and we talked about it, she immediately labeled it as transference. My family completely ignored me growing up, especially with emotional issues, so this makes sense.. but I'm feeling lost. I truly feel like she isnt hearing me, and its really hurting.. but maybe shes right, and it is just a transference reaction.

Again, there may be some transference there, but labelling it as transference doesn’t help you much. If I were in your position I might ask the T how she plans to address this transference within therapy and how she can help you to feel safer in therapy. I believe therapy has to be something you both bring to the work: if you have transference then you’re not alone, but at the same time she must have some countertransference reactions. How can she use those to help you? That would be my question…
> How do you know whats real and what isnt?

Your feelings are real. If you don’t feel heard, it’s something you and your T need to work on together. I hope she wasn’t dismissing your feelings (I know the label of transference can feel like that). For what it’s worth, I found my initial experience of transference desperately painful, but ultimately it was the vehicle for discovering how to heal. So it has its uses, even though it can feel awful.

Also, some Ts are more ‘touchy-feely’ than others. Maybe your T prefers to maintain an emotional distance, while others are more inclined to comfort or hug their clients. I think it’s possible to do great work in therapy with a distant therapist, but it can be painful to settle into the relationship. However, once you both trust each other, I think you can do some really good work…

Good luck!





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