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Romantic Feelings For Your Therapist?

answered 02:07 PM EST, Tue February 28, 2012
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What do I do if I am having romantic feelings about my therapist? I have seen her now for 6 sessions and I can’t get her out of my head. I am constantly thinking about her, even though I know that there is no possible way for us to get together romantically (my brain may know this but my heart doesn’t seem to be getting the message). I still find her effective but I am a bit distracted away from my focus on myself to a focus on ‘us’. Should I bring up how I am feeling with her? Will I have to find a new therapist most likely? Is this a common occurrence?

Cynthia Klatte Says...

Cynthia Klatte C. Klatte
LCSW, ACSW

Dear Anonymous,

 

Thank you for being brave enough to share your story. Yes, transference in psychotherapy is very common, but my guess is not commonly talked about. Addressing your transference in therapy can be an incredible growth experience, where one can better learn about themselves and patterns in their relationships.

 

Transference is an unconscious process whereby one’s thoughts and feelings from a past relationship get transferred onto the therapist. When one develops a close, safe and trusting relationship with a therapist, it can trigger familiar feelings related to a previous relationship with others, such as a parent or even a lover. Sometimes that "attraction" isn't really a physical attraction at all, but possibly a desire for some need that was not met in that previous relationship. There are many possible interpretations. Some clients do develop an erotic transference, which is a romantic or sexual attraction, and therapy is the ideal place to work that out as well.

 

The caveat I give you is that if it becomes obsessive, or if you feel the therapist is in some way encouraging it, or if you don't trust the therapist to have clear boundaries and to be ethical in their practice, then I'd recommend transferring to a new therapist. Otherwise, think of it as an opportunity to resolve a past relationship issue or a way to learn more about yourself.

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Page last updated Mar 09, 2012

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