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How is it helpful to have romantic/sexual feelings for your therapist?

post #1 of 53
Thread Starter 
I didn't want to derail the other thread, but I'm hoping someone can shed light on how having sexual and romantic feelings for your therapist is helpful.

I don't quite "get it."
post #2 of 53
It's not.
post #3 of 53
What do you mean by 'helpful'? Feelings just are---neither good nor bad.
post #4 of 53
The following is directly taken from the Wikipedia article on "Transference."

In a therapy context, transference refers to redirection of a client's feelings from 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 clients, 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 focus in psychodynamic psychotherapy is, in large part, the therapist and client recognizing the transference relationship and exploring what the meaning of the relationship is. Because 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 figures from their childhoods.

Countertransference[5] is defined as redirection of a therapist's feelings toward a client, or more generally as a therapist's emotional entanglement with a client. A therapist's attunement to his own countertransference is nearly as critical as his understanding of the transference. Not only does this help the therapist regulate his/her own emotions in the therapeutic relationship, but it also gives the therapist valuable insight into what the client is attempting to elicit in them. For example, if a therapist feels a very strong sexual attraction to a patient, he or she must understand this as countertransference and look at how the client is attempting to elicit this reaction in him or her. Once it has been identified, the therapist can ask the client what her feelings are toward the therapist and examine the feelings the client has and how they relate to unconscious motivations, desires, or fears.

Another contrasting perspective on transference and counter-transference is offered in Classical Adlerian psychotherapy. Rather than using the client's transference strategically in therapy, the positive or negative transference is diplomatically pointed out and explained as an obstacle to cooperation and improvement. For the therapist, any signs of counter-transference would suggest that his own personal training analysis needed to be continued to overcome these tendencies.


So my hunch was correct about that being a helpful thing, but only if the therapist understands and practices Freudian-based therapy. So the therapist is supposed to analyze the attraction and try to get to the root of who the patient is replacing him/her with and try to understand why the patient is creating that relationship; what past relationship are they trying to recreate? Father, Mother, Sibling, Spouse, etc. Of course, you'd have to buy in to all of Freud's hypotheses... but that's another thread I suppose!
post #5 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by fek&fuzz View Post
I didn't want to derail the other thread, but I'm hoping someone can shed light on how having sexual and romantic feelings for your therapist is helpful.

I don't quite "get it."
It isn't so much that sexual or romantic feelings specifically are helpful in therapy. It is that whatever feelings a client develops for their therapist can be helpful to the therapy. It is the feelings and what they mean that matter, not at all that they need to be acted upon or taken literally.
post #6 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shantimama View Post
It isn't so much that sexual or romantic feelings specifically are helpful in therapy. It is that whatever feelings a client develops for their therapist can be helpful to the therapy. It is the feelings and what they mean that matter, not at all that they need to be acted upon or taken literally.
See, I never got past that point, I just fled the scene when the strong feelings arose. But then later I was able to reprocess some of those feelings to try to understand why I felt that way. I feel like it's a lifelong process in some ways. Like, are we ever "done" processing our childhood relationships? I feel like I am heavily processing a lot of that right now, but also our family and my parents just bought a house together (after having lived together in a smaller house for a year) so I am not surprised to be heavily processing stuff as my mind runs through the first thirty years of my life and projects the next thirty years, which will include my children growing up and my parents dying in this house (again a whole 'nother thread! ).
post #7 of 53
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post #8 of 53
Psychiatry is a profession.

Say your married. As you’ve learned by now, marriage 'aint easy. It’s work.

One day you set yourself on fire. The Fireman who puts out your fire becomes your hero. Sexy.

a) You keep it professional. It's the Fireman's job to put out fires. You're glad he's there to help & feel thankful. He’s nice eye-candy. Probably have some fantasies later - buy husband a Fire Hat.

b) You become flirtatious. You want to see him again, so you set yourself on fire just so he can put it out. Your fantasies of him distance you further from your husband. You think the fireman only puts out your fires or puts them out in a special way that could lead to possibilities... so you continue to set yourself on fire.

Helpful?

I think it’s pretty hilarious that all these Freud/psychoanalysis ideas are being thrown around. I’m speaking from the heart when I say I mean absolutely no offense to anyone, but seriously. How Victorian
post #9 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by OliveJewel View Post
... Like, are we ever "done" processing our childhood relationships? I feel like I am heavily processing a lot of that right now, but also our family and my parents just bought a house together (after having lived together in a smaller house for a year) so I am not surprised to be heavily processing stuff as my mind runs through the first thirty years of my life and projects the next thirty years, which will include my children growing up and my parents dying in this house (again a whole 'nother thread! ).
I stuck with therapy for a long, long time. For me, I am really way done processing my childhood, relationships, and a whole lot of other stuff. I exist. New things do come up, some not so joyful, but I can pull out the "tools" I acquired. I knew about transference before I began therapy. I can't say I understood it fully or thought much about the meaning of it until now. I did develop a very good relationship with my pdoc from the circumstance of time spent there and getting it all out by examining every crevice of my life and mind. I wanted to understand me and others; to improve my thinking and my life. I was really into the significance of dreams for a time and came to learn to interpret mine and use the meaning. My pdoc was darn good at interpretation, which was a huge bonus. That helped me a lot. I'd say we had an excellent doctor-patient relationship. For me, I know where the line in the sand is drawn about transference and counter transference.

Not to derail this thread, houses have great meaning in one's dreams. I'm not at all surprised that you are processing stuff now.
post #10 of 53
Quote:
Originally posted by Carley ...I think it’s pretty hilarious that all these Freud/psychoanalysis ideas are being thrown around. I’m speaking from the heart when I say I mean absolutely no offense to anyone, but seriously. How Victorian
laughup
Jungian myself. Freud was too anal for me!

My pdoc explained to me that he (and most) draw on several modalities to treat a patient, that is, unless one strictly seeks out a Freudian pdoc (and I wonder if there are many of them around). He also explained that therapists go to therapists.
post #11 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by secretcrush1 View Post
So has anyone seen the show In Treatment? (I discovered it while googling "transference". ) I thought it was really odd how all of Paul's patients were so rude to him, always picking fights, getting offended at everything he said, etc. So is this what is going on? They are all engaged in transference?

For all the theorizing about transference, explanations like the one above tend to overlook the fact that unrequited love is painful. (Erotic) transference may be therapeutic or "helpful" in some way, but it still hurts like hell.
I don't want to go into too much depth here, but what you feel really isn't about your therapist at all. This is why it is crucial for clients/patients to discuss their feelings with the therapist. It is the therapist's responsibility to help you figure out what and why you are feeling the way you do.
As a general note, transference doesn't simply involve sexual or romantic feelings; it refers to all the feelings a client has toward a therapist, ie anger, jealousy, hatred, abandonment, etc.

With regard to the firefighter analogy, the relationship is fundamentally different. Your house gets on fire and you call the firefighter. They come, your fire gets put out, you are eternally thankful. You both go your separate ways--end of relationship.
With a therapist, you share your most intimate, sometimes dark secrets with this person. There is an unbelievable depth of trust that comes from this relationship. The clients returns week after week to meet with a person who is (in most cases), warm, nonjudgmental, listens and accepts you unconditionally. It is very reminiscent of the parent-child relationship. Depending on your earlier childhood relationships, you are likely to develop feelings of some sort. It's neither good or bad--simply the result of this type of relationship. The therapist is absolutely responsible for managing this process and should NEVER cross the line or indicate that it is ever a possibility.
post #12 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by purplegirl View Post
...With regard to the firefighter analogy, the relationship is fundamentally different. Your house gets on fire and you call the firefighter. They come, your fire gets put out, you are eternally thankful. You both go your separate ways--end of relationship. ....
I humbly disagree. As it was presented, the fire/firefighter analogy illustrates what can happen when one chooses NOT to go separate ways. Choice is an option and choices have consequences. Others are involved.

Can we return to the original post on the other thread now?
post #13 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carley View Post
Psychiatry is a profession.

I think it’s pretty hilarious that all these Freud/psychoanalysis ideas are being thrown around. I’m speaking from the heart when I say I mean absolutely no offense to anyone, but seriously. How Victorian
I agree. And I must add that Universities do not teach Freudian psychoanalysis anymore. Most younger psychologist only know about Freud from their first year where you learn about the history of psychology. And therefore you can not expect a psychologist or psychiatrist to deal with "transference" in a psychoanalytic fashion. They are not trained to do so.

It's very normal to have "warm" feelings for the therapist but to make those feelings romantic is a bad idea and it does not enhance treatment. On the contrary.
post #14 of 53
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post #15 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThirdEyeMom View Post
I humbly disagree. As it was presented, the fire/firefighter analogy illustrates what can happen when one chooses NOT to go separate ways. Choice is an option and choices have consequences. Others are involved.

Can we return to the original post on the other thread now?
Are you in the mental health field? Just curious?




I find it curious that people want to deny normal feelings and human experiences. Feelings toward someone does not equate to action. Additionally, you don't have to be freudian trained to understand transference. I certainly was not freudian trained at all, quite the contrary in fact. However, as a therapist, you must understand human emotions and how they play into the therapeutic process.
post #16 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by secretcrush1 View Post
And how do you propose patients do this? If I could "make" myself feel certain emotions and delete others, if I had that kind of control over my feelings, I wouldn't need therapy!

I completely agree. I would never suggest that a client deny any feelings. Feelings don't necessarily lead to action and that is where choice comes into play. We can exercise control over our feelings, but I don't encourage anyone to deny normal experiences. Talking about and acknowledging feelings helps one to make better and healthier choices.
post #17 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by purplegirl View Post
I completely agree. I would never suggest that a client deny any feelings. Feelings don't necessarily lead to action and that is where choice comes into play. We can exercise control over our feelings, but I don't encourage anyone to deny normal experiences. Talking about and acknowledging feelings helps one to make better and healthier choices.
excellent reply purplegirl. No matter how much you need therapy it doesn't take away the responsibility you have towards your husband. As with any other crush you should tell your husband and stop seeing the therapist right now. Go to www.survivinginfidelity.com for more information.

I don't think it's any different to have a crush on your therapist or your dentist. But if you want to stay married you need to stop it and be honest about it.
post #18 of 53
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThirdEyeMom View Post

Can we return to the original post on the other thread now?
I'm glad this thread is happening. I too was very concerned and confused about how it could be healthy. I still don't "feel" that its healthy, but if so many other people have found benefit and growth within it, I'm happy for them & will read more in order to understand better. Also in thinking about my aunt's situation (in the other thread... she & her doc ended up married) and have seen that there is still a really odd & unhealthy power dynamic, she's gotten weaker from his power. She got stuck in the transference stage (i guess??) & they haven't really worked thru anything it seems. Now she's married to him for several years and still idolizes him in an unhealthy way. I guess I simply don't know enough about therapy and should continue reading before doling out advice on the other thread.
post #19 of 53
It is actually against the code of ethics for any therapist to become romantically or sexually involved with a client - sometimes for the time of treatment and a certain window of time after treatment ends, sometimes forever. Any therapist that engages in a sexual relationship with a current or former client can get in huge trouble!

As for transference, it isn't all about using Freudian psychoanalysis. The concepts of transference and counter transference are taught in all kinds of helping professions. People develop feelings about each other. In an intense relationship like therapy, the feelings a client develops for their therapist are often repetitions of the kinds of feelings they have had for other important people in their past. The therapist can help the client work through old unresolved feelings that are brought up in therapy. That is why we go to therapy after all - to work through things that are troubling us.

Unless the therapist is responding inappropriately to a client's sexual attraction, it doesn't have to be necessary for someone to leave therapy just because a client is attracted to her therapist. A good therapist will help the client explore why those feelings are happening now and hopefully resolve some problems. Working through such feelings in a safe environment like therapy could actually strengthen a marriage rather than sabotage it.

People also go to therapy for different reasons and for different lengths of time. Stuff like this might not ever come up for someone who is going to a half dozen sessions to work on something specific and not too deep, but a long term in-depth therapy relationship is very different than a short term counselling relationship.
post #20 of 53
I wonder how it can be healthy when many times the "crush" stems from a chemical imbalance. Many people seeking therapy/psychiatry services are mentally ill.

I for instance was a raging bipolar person in the throws of soft mania and feeling all kinds of hot and bothered by my psychiatrist, one day I even told him he had lovely trousers and probably appeared to be on extasy.

This was not a stage in my therapy, I was out of my freaking mind.

My sane self would NEVER in a million billion years get all wired and high and crush on my doctor and have mind rushing thoughts about him, and pine for him until I could see him again. I was sick, that was sickness, not a helpful stage in my therapy.

That is not sanity for a bipolar person. They are also not valid feelings. They are chemical reactions- the imbalanced kind.

So in that context you cannot convince me that it's healthy.

I can see gaining trust or a level of intimacy and going through a stage with a therapist where you feel really bonded, but sex fantasies and continuously thinking of the guy and wanting him and all that- Freud be damned I'm not buying into it.
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