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Re: Girl33, welcome and long reply...

Posted by Lucie Lu on June 29, 2008, at 16:13:14

In reply to Therapist in love with me or Im crazy??, posted by girl33 on June 29, 2008, at 10:27:38

Hi Girl33, and welcome to babble! It sounds like you have a host of painful and conflicted feelings for your therapist and your interactions with her. I know that these feelings can be very powerful and cause a lot of discomfort, to put it mildly. I admit that taking everything in your post at face value makes her behavior sound potentially unacceptable. However, especially in therapy but in other relationships as well, there are a great many grey areas and potential miscues when two people are trying to communicate on a deep level. Considering other possible interpretations may be helpful. No one but you can know what happened in therapy but I'd like to raise a things and hope they will be helpful to you. Here goes:

First and foremost, ***you did absolutely nothing wrong!*** Feelings of love, even romantic or sexual love, for one's therapist are completely normal and happen frequently in therapy. Really, it is not at all surprising to develop such feelings: here you are in an intimate setting, hour after hour, with someone who mirrors the best things about you, unconditionally accepts you, expresses warmth and understanding, and is devoted exclusively to your welfare. For some sorts of therapy, e.g. psychodynamic, the strong positive feelings that develop are important because the strength of a therapeutic bond is a critical factor in healing. But if you read through postings on this board (you can search the archives, too) you will see that many, many patients do struggle with powerful feelings about their T's. Working through these feelings can be profoundly therapeutic since they represent what happens with your outside life too. Except that in real life, you rarely have an opportunity to openly express ALL of your feelings, positive and negative, with the people in your life. But in therapy, you can do exactly that and together with your T work on understanding the ways in which you relate, intimately or otherwise, to other people. As you have discovered, when your feelings take on a romantic or sexual tone, which is often independent even of sexual orientation, it can be especially uncomfortable for you and induce uncomfortable feelings like embarrassment, shame, frustration, longing, or rejection. These responses too are normal and can be very useful to work with. But believe me, therapists are professionals and very used to it. A good T will be both unfazed and supportive, happy that you trust them enough to express such deep feelings.

Having said that about your feelings while therapists can and do develop tangible feelings of warmth, affection, and concern for their patients, therapists' feelings are not typically sexual or romantic in the usual therapeutic relationship. Even if there were such feelings within the T, those feelings should be kept private and are not expressed to you or acted upon. (I know from this board there may be exceptions but I'm talking about the norm so please don't take this as implied criticism.) While some T's do openly express caring and loving feelings for their patients - and your T may be one of them other therapists may not openly express their loving feelings to you, either because it is simply not their style or they may think it is not be good for your therapy. Perhaps in complimenting you, your T is trying to build up your self esteem and give you confidence since you say you are shy. In saying she loves you (although I agree that these are strong words and I would never hear from my own T; it's not his style, though sometimes I wish it were!) perhaps she just wants to reassure you that she sincerely cares about you and wants to help you, if you feel you can return to therapy. She also may be more likely to use the stronger wording because she is your mother's friend, more like family.

I might guess that your therapist sounded aloof when you asked to meet her outside of the office because she viewed it as a potential boundary crossing, one that would be untherapeutic if she agreed to it. If so, this may actually be a good sign that she has your welfare in mind. If so, then yes, you might feel embarrassed but a good T would be very understanding, accepting, and compassionate if you were to open up about the feelings and perceptions that led you to make such a suggestion in the first place. If she is a good T, she will welcome the opportunity to help you examine your feelings and responses in depth as part of your therapy. And don't worry merely making such a suggestion is not wrong either. I once read, and it is true, that as patients it is our job to try to push their buttons and boundaries and their job to see that we don't (was this from In Session?). So you see, nothing you did was wrong.

Girl33, please realize that I am not ruling out your first impression that she really is making moves on you. You may be correct, in which case you might be better finding another T asap! I am just raising other possibilities and contexts to consider her behavior in. Our prior experiences and relationships, as well as our own subjective feelings, cannot help but color how we interpret our interactions with our T's, and talking about these honestly can be the core of the therapy. You have to decide whether you can or want to open up an honest dialogue about feelings, mutual or otherwise, that you find painful or uncomfortable. Alternatively, you can try to find a different T who does not evoke these particular feelings in you maybe someone less pretty, more motherly or fatherly, etc. You certainly should not stay in an unproductive therapeutic relationship simply because of the family connection.

In a nutshell, if the feelings your T expresses about you make you extremely uncomfortable, you ultimately have two options. You can decide to discuss the situation openly and honestly (at some point) with your T or change T's altogether. Therapy is supposed to provide a safe haven where you can bare your soul and not feel threatened, whatever the reason. Again, your feelings are NOT unacceptable, unusual, or unspeakable or even uncommon! Examining them may be very relevant to your therapy but only if you feel safe enough with your T to do so.

Again welcome to the board and keep us posted!

Good luck, Lucie L


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Psycho-Babble Psychology | Framed

poster:Lucie Lu thread:837130
URL: http://www.dr-bob.org/babble/psycho/20080616/msgs/837176.html