Transference ? feels like a mess now. Wish I had kept my mouth shut!

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michelle11

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#1
my therapist keep asking me what feelings I have towards him. I always say I don't know or nothing. Anyway I have liked him since our first meeting he is very attractive gorgeous eyes and lips. I have tried to keep my feelings a secret and make sure my body langauge doesn't give my feelings away. I have tried to stop myself feeling anything for him I know it's wrong. I just feel a connection between us especially when he stares at me I just feel something.

Anyway today he asked me and it took a while but i ended up telling him I thought he was hot and attractive. He was fine about it and he said he felt something . He said it was all ok provided we didn't act on anything. It was ok to explore the feelings. I wish I hadn't said anything. I told him that I didn't want him to feel awkward and he said I don't feel awkward I feel something ?

I told him my fears about therapy ending because of the situation and he promised it wouldn't he thanked me for being honest.

I feel really stupid he did talk about transference but I don't really know much about it.

Anyway he is stuck in my head now it's so annoying. Wish I had kept my big mouth shut. He said it would be useful, im wondering how that can be. Wrestling with my feeling for him is driving me nuts. Being bipolar I will probably not feel anything for him next week as my feelings can turn off and on a bit.
 
Dita85

Dita85

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#2
Hi Michelle. I don't think that anything that has happened is your fault at all. It is normal for you to feel all sorts of things about your therapist and it can be useful to work through those feelings in therapy.

What is not normal or acceptable is for him to tell you that he feels that way about you. To me that seems very inappropriate and I think he has crossed his professional boundaries. The only redeeming thing is that he has recognised that it would be very wrong for anything to happen. I don't think you have done anything wrong, but I think your therapist has. I'm sorry, because I feel like my reply won't have made you feel better. I just don't want you to end up being hurt by someone that you should be able to trust. I know I would feel so confused if I was in your situation.
 
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ranger

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#3
This is quite common in therapy Michelle. I am male and have seen a female therapist over the years.

I actually knew about transference, having learnt a bit about providing therapy in the past, but on a couple of occasions I did get feelings for my therapist. I did tell her straight away the second time and she said she felt pleased that I had trusted her enough for me to tell her.

It was fine when I saw her after that and there were no feelings in that sense for me after that either.

I wasn't sure if I read it right and he was saying he sensed that you had feelings and that was ok. If he said that that is absolutely fine and I am certain therapy with him can progress.

If he actually said he has feelings for you, this is very bad practice by him. This is very wrong by him. It is absolutely no reflection on you, but this practise is simply not on if he is saying he is thinking of acting on it.

It would be no problem at all if it is only you with the feelings though. I wouldn't give yourself a hard time over your feelings though. Opening up to someone who listens unconditionally can be a very attractive quality and hence why transference happens ie thoughts of some sort of relationship with the therapist from the counsellee's perspective.

But if he is actually admitting to feelings, he knows he shouldn't be counselling you. Do you know what qualifications with regards to professional counselling qualifications he has. It is your right to know that??

Ranger:)
 
flowergirl

flowergirl

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#4
I agree with the above two comments ..its totally not acceptable for him to say he felt something it goes against the guidelines of therapy the code of practice is there for a reason so that vulnerable people are not taken advantage of. I worry that by constantly asking you how you feel towards him he ismanipulating the normal feeling of closeness that is aquired in therapy and is encouraging it by telling you he feels something
 
C

Callalily

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#5
I must admit, I find this quite worrying, a therapist shouldn't be pressing you for how you feel about him (about therapy perhaps but not him specifically) nor should he say that he has feelings for you. This is very unprofessional of him.

I have heard it is reasonably common for people to develop feelings for their parents, either romantic, sexual or that of a parent like figure. Therapist are supposed to spend a long time exploring this in their training but it doesn't sound as if yours has.

You say you don't have long left in your therapy but if you had longer I would probably suggest asking to change therapist.

I don't think I could see a therapist I was attracted to, I think I would find it difficult to open up and there may be some things I would feel uncomfortable talking to him about.

As the others said, your feelings towards him are natural and fairly common and I think therapists can develop feelings for clients too but they should respect professional boundaries and not say anything or act in a way that is inappropriate.
 
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ranger

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#6
Do you think you might have misinterpreted what he said and he simply meant he thinks you are a decent person or did he say he was romantically attracted to you.

I was just thinking that may be what he was saying because if he was saying otherwise this just is plain wrong.

I guess you may have certain feelings for a bit, I actually only got them briefly. They didn't persist after I told her. Guess it was a vulnerable moment and like I said this is quite common in therapy.

But if he is genuine, but your feelings persist I would find it very difficult to be completely relaxed about opening up too much and maybe in a way be trying to impress the therapist as opposed to being more easily able to delve into problems I have.

Maybe if this happened, a same sex therapist might be a little easier for you, I don't know. I am only guessing.
 
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Callalily

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#7
Do you think you might have misinterpreted what he said and he simply meant he thinks you are a decent person or did he say he was romantically attracted to you.

I was just thinking that may be what he was saying because if he was saying otherwise this just is plain wrong.

I guess you may have certain feelings for a bit, I actually only got them briefly. They didn't persist after I told her. Guess it was a vulnerable moment and like I said this is quite common in therapy.

But if he is genuine, but your feelings persist I would find it very difficult to be completely relaxed about opening up too much and maybe in a way be trying to impress the therapist as opposed to being more easily able to delve into problems I have.

Maybe if this happened, a same sex therapist might be a little easier for you, I don't know. I am only guessing.
That's a good point, I hadn't thought of it but it seems plausible to me.
 
pepecat

pepecat

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#8
My therapist asked me a lot what i thought of her - did i think about her outside of therapy, was i attracted to her (she asked me this a couple of times), did i have any sexual feelings for her (again, only once or twice).....

(I'm female, by the way... but also gay, which complicates it a bit!)

Her questions were usually in the context of what we were talking about - or near enough anyway - so it wasn't completely out of the blue. In terms of transference, there is a case to be made for a therapist asking those questions, and i think it does need to be brought out into the open and explored with the therapist, as feelings for a therapist can get in the way of the therapy itself, or be a sign about something else going on in one's head, or become a sort of 'elephant in the room'. It might make you feel completely uncomfortable, but it is worth getting it out in the open and talking about it.
My therapist was there WAY before me - she'd say stuff like 'I think you're going to miss me a lot at the end' or 'i think you have deeper feelings for me than you want to admit'.... i wasn't playing ball at the start, and then it was like 'Of course I do (have deep feelings for you), but i'm not going to admit it'.....
Took me well over a year to say how i feel about her. And she's fine with it. I'm not attracted to her, but i do see her as a sort of parent figure.

Where i think your therapist has overstepped the mark (as the others have said) is your therapist saying he had feelings too.... if that's actually what he meant by that. He should have kept that to himself and discussed it with his supervisor (because all therapists should meet with a supervisor every couple of weeks or month to bring up stuff they're having difficulty with in their work). I guess talking about how you feel about him can be embarassing for you, but he should be able to deal with that. What's not fair is if he talks about how he feels about you - that could leave you with all sorts of stuff to think about, and make you embarassed, which is not really fair.

When he said he 'felt something', did he mean he'd picked up on how you felt about him? In which case, talking about stuff with him is absolutely the right thing to do, even if it is scary and makes you feel uncomfortable. It'll help (or should do) in the long run and if you can be honest with him.
Some stuff on transference:

(from wikipedia)
In a therapy context, transference refers to redirection of a patient's feelings for a significant person to the therapist. Transference is often manifested as an erotic attraction towards a therapist, but can be seen in many other forms such as rage, hatred, mistrust, parentification, extreme dependence, or even placing the therapist in a god-like or guru status. When Freud initially encountered transference in his therapy with patients, he felt it was an obstacle to treatment success. But what he learned was that the analysis of the transference was actually the work that needed to be done: "the transference, which, whether affectionate or hostile, seemed in every case to constitute the greatest threat to the treatment, becomes its best tool".The focus in psychodynamic psychotherapy is, in large part, the therapist and patient recognizing the transference relationship and exploring the relationship's meaning. Since the transference between patient and therapist happens on an unconscious level, psychodynamic therapists who are largely concerned with a patient's unconscious material use the transference to reveal unresolved conflicts patients have with childhood figures.

A blogspot by a therapist - he writes some good stuff:
Transference: Uses and Abuses | After Psychotherapy

And from Psychology Today (also quite a decent website):
A Client's Guide to Transference | Psychology Today
 
ally41

ally41

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#9
I've been having art psychotherapy for 9 years and my therapist has NEVER told me about any feelings he has towards me. The only time he has asked me about my feelings towards him is if I've been displaying irritation towards him and we discuss the reasons for that. A therapist is NEVER supposed to discuss having feelings of attraction towards their client, this is a major lapse in boundaries that are absolutely essential for successful therapy. One has to eventually be able to move beyond transference and as you are now experiencing, this is almost impossible to do if you engage with it. Your totally understandable discomfort has been caused by him forcing you to acknowledge your feelings and then breaking the rules by reciprocating. I doubt that there is anything useful that you can achieve with him now, how can you? Everything is now going to be coloured by this game he is playing with you.

I remember a time when I had similar feelings towards my therapist and remember doing things like reaching provocatively over the table for the art materials and such like - it embarrasses me terribly now, but he never said a word about it at the time and I'm really grateful. As a result of his clear boundaries and his refusal to engage in that game with me, I was able to move beyond that particular transference very quickly and not a word needed to be spoken about it - to speak about it would have been to engage with it and I'd have been so embarrassed i probably wouldn't have been able to continue seeing him - and he KNEW that.

Most of the transference one experiences with a therapist will be parental - think about how parents are supposed to behave when children practice their sexuality on them before puberty (Oedipus etc) they are supposed to clearly reject it and have very strong boundaries around it. Imagine how damaging it would be to have a therapist who breaks those boundaries with someone who had been abused as a child? This therapist needs to be reported and retrained as he could be doing real damage to people. I hope that you find a good therapist next time and If you decide not to see him again, I would support your decision. xxx
 
Wiseowl

Wiseowl

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#10
Hi Michelle

It sounds like your therapist is being congruent (honest/real) with you and wants to work through the transference in further sessions. Your therapist may will seek guidance themselves and bring this up in their supervision.

See how you feel about and perhaps try another session. Tell the therapist how you feel and see how they react.

It is a fine line between a therapist being real and a therapist encouraging or acting on feelings. If you feel at all unsafe, like your welfare is at risk or that anything inapropriate happens do talk to the centre where the therapy is taking place or contact the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) where you can make a formal complaint if needed.

Welcome to Professional Conduct 2013 - BACP Professional Conduct
 
speckles

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#11
I think it is an interesting one. I don't think a therapist should be talking about their sexual feelings ever, but different therapists and therapy requires different relationships. Dbt has a much more personal relationship I think partly to teach you about interpersonal relationships, but has strong boundaries too. But your dbt therapist will tell you if you are annoying them, or if something you did makes them feel bad, you are also encouraged to tell them the same. I remember my therapist saying to me once I sorry I didn t respond to your phone call request I switched off my phone because I was annoyed with you, I shouldn't have done that though! Dbt can be good but a word of warning you need to develop a thick skin as therapists are very open about their feelings and your behaviour- but this can be really good too and helpful.
 
ally41

ally41

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#12
After reading the last couple of posts, I'd like to add one more thing. If we were capable of having totally healthy relationships and weren't split, we wouldn't be needing therapy would we? To ask that we be capable of maintaining our own boundaries in what is a highly stressful and emotional situation (therapy) is clearly then asking too much, especially at the beginning. What is 'real', we are so subject to transference and regression in this process, we cannot be 'real' and so often what we feel is conflicting as different parts are split that it would impossible for us to maintain a unified and stable persona. It is therefore the therapists responsibility to treat us with massive kid gloves and to make it as easy as possible for us to understand ourselves, and that takes a lot of time and trust. Maybe this can only be done with very long term therapy, which Iive been lucky enough to get (9 years and counting). The fact that some therapists feel the need to rush things and force us to see things when we are not ready by being 'honest' or 'real' makes me even more skeptical that short term therapy has any useful place in mental health care. I really feel that therapists have no business being 'real' when the effects of such behaviour are so apparently harmful.
 
F

full on carer

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#13
This is highly unproffesional and you should speak to another therapist and tell them whats been going on.You could be helping others too
 
M

michelle11

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#14
Thanks for all your replies. I'm tempted to say next time I see him that I read up some more about transference and have understood why I felt that way towards him. My husband and I don't have a physical relationship and haven't done for years, so I'm guessing that it is normal for me to feel the way I do. I honestly feel though, that he did feel something because he would just stare into my eyes for what seemed like an eternity.
Nearly every session he will ask what feelings come up towards him when he asks a question ? Maybe he thinks that he is irritating me or making me angry ? Maybe I'm just reading the whole situation wrong.
I just think it would be better if I say that I have dealt with it and I'm well over him in a polite way. I don't want him feeling awkward. I also feel like he has got one up on me now. I just don't want there to be game playing in sessions if that makes any sense.
 
pepecat

pepecat

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#15
Nearly every session he will ask what feelings come up towards him when he asks a question ? Maybe he thinks that he is irritating me or making me angry ? Maybe I'm just reading the whole situation wrong.
He may be asking that if your answers to his questions and your body language don't match. So, for example, if he says 'How are you feeling today' and you go 'fine', but cross your arms and look away, well that's an example of what you say and your body language not matching. You say you're ok, but your body language indicates that you're not fine at all. Body lauguage is much harder for us to lie with - its far easier to say a fib, but often our posture, tone of voice, eye contact (or not) etc, all give us away. Therapists are pretty good at picking up on this stuff. Mine's done it with me before - told me what i was saying and the way i was saying it didn't match, so she thought there was more / different going on.
It may be that he's getting mixed messages from you, so he's asking what feelings him asking that question brings up, because what you're saying is different from what your body language indicates. So you might actually be thinking 'Oh shut up and stop asking stupid questions, you sound like my dad nagging me', but you say 'Oh i'm fine'. If that were the case, saying what you're tihnking is far more honest and productive in the long run, because it basically would be an example of transference. You'd be 'transferring' the feelings you have about your dad nagging you onto the therapist, but in a therapy setting you can explore and work those out in a safe place.

I also feel like he has got one up on me now. I just don't want there to be game playing in sessions if that makes any sense.
There wont be game playing if you're honest with him. And if he does have feelings for you, well he definitely shouldn't tell you he has feelings for you.
Y'know, i felt for a long time that i didn't want to admit things to my therapist because it felt like she had one up on me as well and i hated that. She'd say things like 'i think this is related to x' and i think 'No it's not' (even though deep down i knew it probably was), and i kicked against her in that way pretty much all of the first year - it took me a while to admit she was right about stuff, but then she's good at her job and had kinda got me sussed before i had. It's not a nice feeling to think they've got one up on you, but that's kinda the way it's going to be if you sit there telling them all the crappy stuff in your head and never hearing anything about them.
 
R

ranger

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#16
From how you explain it you do feel very uncomfortable with him. Therapy is u comfortable. It is not easy. I honestly don't know but obviously it is very natural in many respects to be attracted to him in that way considering how your relationship is.

Do you feel maybe it might be better if either you or both you and your husband considered relationship counselling. I don't know if this is possible for you both. Obviously I have no idea as to how things are in general.

I am getting the feeling the therapist might be trying to explore this for you as opposed to stating maybe what you think.

I am sorry. I hope I haven't said anything out of place. I am just considering if this might be what is happening. I don't know you so obviously I don't know what works cor you but if this is too difficult talking to a male counsellor particularly one you fancy do you think it maybe easier chatting to a female counsellor. Hope I haven't upset you by saying this.

Ranger
 
M

michelle11

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#17
No you haven't offended me it is good to know what other people think could be going on. He knows my relationship is not so good at home. But I just muddle on through it. Maybe he is just exploring what is happening although I've told him everything. I will see how next session goes. Thanks for all your advice it really helps.
 
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ranger

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#18
I had a lot of therapy myself. But I did find chatting on here as well helped me reinforce what I had sort of learnt in therapy but just needed reinforcing.

You will get a lot of people on here from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of experiences. So there will be lots of viewpoints but I hope being on here can help you too.

Good luck with the next session. Hope it gradually helps you.

My therapist said to me that therapy is like unravelling all the layers of an onion.ie it happens bit by bit ie it takes a while to get to the core. It doesn't happen overnight but maybe hopefully it may help you. I hope so.

Ranger.