Transference and counter transference are natural and common occurences in therapy. The knowledgeable therapist uses his/her awareness of these parts of the therapy relationship to make the therapy process even more productive. If the therapist doesn’t know how to work in the transference much can be missed and the therapy may not be as successful. There is no reason to refer a client if either of these natural relational issues are occuring; there is nothing wrong happening.
Transference is an experience of the other person being “like” someone else in your life, and also, an unconscious transfering of attributes of the original known person onto the new relational person. When a client has positive transference with the therapist, the therapists seems to the client to be like a good parent figure who is probably going to be helpful to the client. Associated with this is sometimes an unrealistic hope of being entirely rescused without much effort on the client’s part, and this, because it isn’t true, usually becomes a disappointment that has to be contended with. A healthier positive transference is more of a openness to the words and caring of the therapist, which has a very positive affect. Positive transference allows the therapist deep access to the client and their unconscious, and in this way provides an opportunity for a very strong healing to occur.
Negative transference implies that the therapist seems as if they are going to be hurtful in some way, probably like a parent or parent figure already has been in the client’s life. Since people are always transfering what they learned in thier families onto others in their world ( not only onto their therapists) they often wind up making incorrect assumptions about other people. It is very useful to correct negative transferencial assumptions in the therapeutic relationship as this can then generalize to other people in the client’s life. At the same time, working through a negaitive transfence is also corrective of the client’s defensive posture toward the therapist,
Counter transference often arrises in the therapist when the client reminds the therapist of themselves or another significant person in their life. It is important that the therapist keeps this in their conscious awareness so that they continue to view the client accurately and do not start treating the client as if they were someone else. If the therapsit is not aware of thier own counter transference, the therapy can be a waste of time for client, or worse, it can be destructive.
The advantage of doing energy work with psychotherapy is doing so gives access to your soul and letting the soul tell you what you need to work on and to direct the work itself. I use the word soul here to mean that part of each of us that lives beyond our bodies and our personalities. You could call it the part of you that is one with God, or call it your higher self. It doesn’t matter what word you use, it’s the same part of each of us.
When I do energy work with my clients, I prefer to ask the client’s soul to direct the light to create and maintain the highest good and greatest growth available to the client at that time. That is exactly what happens, and it is immensely valuable to be able to access that – regardless of what the original goals were for the person. I have never had anything but helpful, positive results from this work with my clients.
I prefer to combine this kind of energy work with traditional psychotherapy. This is because the person will utilize the energy work best when they have their mind and emotions in line with what is best for them; when their resources are set up to work with and for themselves, not against themselves.
Some people do spiritual work without doing their own personal work and I find that doing that leaves us humans kind of lop-sided….making sometimes serious mistakes and not adding good to the world and the people around us despite our spiritual sophistication. I don’t want to add to that. I what I do to assist people in being more able to do their spiritual / cosmic work to make our world better for everyone.
I think of our spiritual jobs as the task of cleaning up the piece of humanity’s mess that we were handed down from our less than perfect parents. That means doing your own personal therapy work. When I was well on my way to doing the most of that for myself, I experienced a celebration in my spiritual home. The celebration wasn’t for me, personally, it was for the whole group of us. Some work had been done, or was at least a chuck of humanity’s mess (my mess) was well on it’s way to being cleaned up. Now I get to try to help others accomplish the same in their lives. What a worthwhile, joyful thing to pursue. I do so with great humility as I stumble across my limitations and foibles every day.
What I tell my clients if they feel romantic about me, and tell me so, is that those feelings are normal and OK to feel. I assure them that I will never take advantage of their feelings and will always only have a therapeutic relationship with them, and always in the office.
Depending on the client’s response, I might encourage them to talk more about how they feel. I tell them that they are only seeing the very best of me when I am totally focused on their needs and how to be of use to them, and that they may never have had something like that before. I emphasize how they are only seeing me for an hour a week ( or whatever it is) and I am careful to meet with them when I am fully able to be present to them and helpful. If I am tired or sick I cancel the appointment. In this way I am purposely telling them this is not a normal relationship, but a very special one that often includes the person who is the client developing strong feelings for the therapist.
Clients usually find the romantic feelings for the therapist dissipate as they outgrow the need for therapy. They may always feel a fondness for this person who helped them, but the intensity goes away.
I think therapists are re-parenting all the time they are in session with a client, and being keenly aware of that is part of using transference. Recognizing that transference is going on all the time in therapy allows the better therapists to be most effective. This is what is meant by “ It’s the relationship that heals,” not the particular therapeutic approach utilized.
It’s the therapists respect, interest, affection, and effort put out to help; all of this and more is apparent to the client consciously or unconsciously. All of this is saying “you are worthy, you are of great value as a person. Your thoughts are interesting, your feelings matter, ” etc. etc. These messages are the ones the person should have gotten as a child and are now being expressed by the therapist, overtly and not so overtly, verbally and non-verbally. That’s re- parenting, and is the most important job of the therapist.
When I am meeting a client for the first time, I look to see what I label to myself as the beauty of this person. If I don’t see it right away, I consciously wait, because I know I will see it soon. If I can tell I am never going to like a person, for whatever reason, I don’t work with them. It happens very rarely. I know that every person who comes to therapy deserves to be liked and cared about by their therapist.
I combine energy healing and psychotherapy. I have been a psychotherapist for over 40 years and a a practicing energy healer for 30 years. I’m a Reiki Master and have had training in Shamanic Healing. I’ve been mentored by several spiritual teachers over the years.
I believe I am unique in combining psychotherapy and energy work, which has contributed to my success with a wide range of clients.
Some of my clients use me for straight psychotherapy and some just for energy work. I have a strong intuitive facility that informs all my work with clients.
You are welcome to consult with me and we can discuss your individual situation and how I can best be of use to you. See my Contact Me page for details on how to get in touch with me.
I have switched all my sessions to video conferencing sessions, and they are going very well. I have been pleasantly surprised that these distant connections with my clients are working just as well as in person, face to face therapy. I use a HIPPA Compliant System so your privacy is ensured. I encourage anyone seeking therapy to try this out with me. I am seeing both individual people and couples and am pleased with both.
I heard this story first in Gestalt Therapy Training, some 30 years ago: Snakes live in the forest. Their daily travels take them over rough stones, branches, and uneven ground. Every Spring the snake sheds her skin. The outer, older skin loosens and gets tugged at as the snake makes her way around her world. But the outer skin never leaves until the new, baby, inner skin gets tough enough to handle all the rough stuff the snake will be going over.
It’s never the therapist’s job to rip the skin off a snake.
Your therapist sees your vulnerability/your baby skin, that you probably don’t show in normal situations. I feel this is a privileged position and one that absolutely requires respect and compassion if I am to be of use.
The problems couples face are often caused by what is actually normal growth in their relationship. Couples grow through stages in a relationship, and when it happens that each partner is at a different stage, the result is often pain and confusion. It is at these times that couples most often come to therapy, and it is often the biggest problem for couples. Couples therapy can help by guiding both partners to an understanding of what is going on between them and helping them both grow together.
This approach focuses on the development and growth of each partner individually in addition to the development and growth of the relationship. It identifies a number of stages in the evolution of every couple’s relationship. The first two stages of couple growth are Symbiosis and Differentiation.
Symbiosis – The Initial Stage
All couples start out here – feeling romantic, delighting in their newfound similarities, wanting to spend all their time together. This brings about important bonding, your becoming a couple.
Differentiation – The Second Stage
As time goes on, usually within the first two years, Differentiation begins: one person, or both, need to identify themselves as who they are as an individual person. Now is when you recognize that you have differences in feelings and thoughts than your partner, that you don’t always agree. You may want to go out and explore their world, have time with old friends or start a new hobby.
When Stages Happen at Different Times
If this isn’t happening at the same for both people, the one not moving into this second stage often feels hurt or abandoned. “Why am I not enough for you anymore? Why can’t we be together all the time like we were when we were so happy?” The resulting confusion, unhappiness, and stress is the most common time for couples to seek couple counseling.
A Real Problem Caused by Normal Growth
There’s that common problem I was talking about: the normal growth of one person moving to the second stage of the relationship while the other is still in the first stage. The person feeling left and hurt is in the first stage, Symbiosis, and the other has moved into the second stage, Differentiation. It would be so much easier if both people moved from the first stage to the next, but it often doesn’t always happen that way. So they show up in a therapist office, wondering what went “wrong.” Actually, nothing went wrong, they are growing as a couple, but unevenly.
Understanding What is Happening
Learning about these normal stages of growth helps enormously in understanding and normalizing what is happening for both people, and these are taught without judging either person. There are lots of reasons why people go through these stages at different times, and that can be understood by looking at their relationships with their important childhood caregivers, usually their parents. For our purposes here, suffice it to say it is normal, but when one person is at one stage and the other moving into another, it’s a stressful time for the couple. There are more stages to normal couple growth which I can explain elsewhere.
Learning the Skills
In couple therapy, you both can learn the skills of the second stage: Differentiation. These skills include you each acknowledging and stating your own feelings, needs, thoughts, and preferences even when they are not the same as your partner’s. You learn you can maintain your own perspective and not attempt to change your partner’s to match your own. You can agree that as a couple you really are two different people. Being heard and being understood as a separate but still loved and accepted person is a wonderful experience, different than the first stage, but equally bonding. It brings you two together in a new way, with new respect and clarity of who your partner really is and being seen as you really are. It can be exciting and enhance intimacy.
Of course, there can be conflict, and learning how to deal with conflict rather than being afraid to face it is another skill of living in an honest and vibrant relationship.
What does the therapist do in couple therapy?
Provide a safe environment where both people are able to speak and be heard, and where both sides come to be understood and validated
Show how your backgrounds (yes, your baggage) are being triggered and affecting the present, and what to do about it.
Help each person explore their feelings and thoughts without being blocked by taking their partners’ opinions. Learn to do this at home without the therapist being present.
Get clarity about what is going on so the couple can understand themselves and progress.
Discover patterns that are destructive or at least not productive.
Provide ideas about what to focus on between sessions.
Specific advice and guidance for your particular relationship
That’s a very important question – in that it could be devastating to a client to be “fired” by his/her therapist. It’s tantamount to having your parent dis-own you, because of the transference.
After close to 40 years of doing therapy in private practice I think I have told a client I couldn’t keep working with them 3 times: once, the client was refusing to engage with therapy and only wanted to “use me “ much the way he used prostitutes – to feel better emotionally – and refused to have even have an area he wanted to improve himself about and ‘work on’. Another time it was very similar with a woman, and a third time I was seeing a man for the first time and intuitively felt in danger being alone with him in my office. I later heard he had attacked a female nurse in a hospital situation. In the first two examples I considered what I was doing to be therapeutic – in that the impact of having me refuse to continue seeing these people was my *final* BIG statement to them about the importance of dealing with their behavior.
All of which is to say – if you take someone on as a patient and you are not legitimately over your head with them – you have a moral obligation to them to work with them. It’s really OK to admit to a client that you don’t know how to help them and refer them to someone you think can help them. So yes, I think some therapists probably do give up on clients. Hopefully not often. It’s important for therapists to learn how to “size up” clients who show up at their door and decide if they want to work with this person or not.
In the middle of war, people are still very preoccupied with the state of their love relationship. Love is so important, and it is so easy to mess it up. Many people find maintaining a good relationship to be one of the hardest jobs there is. However –
There are skills you can learn to help you communicate honestly and productively with your partner; there are things to learn that better the satisfaction in your sex life. Good relationships make each person a better, happier and more successful version of themselves. The opposite is also true, an unhappy relationship can and does hold you back.
I encourage you to try relationship therapy. Surprisingly, it pushes each person in the relationship to grow, to mature basically, sometimes even more than individual therapy does. I am particularly skilled and catching the small things that people do that affect each other – both positively and negatively. Recapture what it was that brought you together in the first place, and activate those feelings at the stage of development your relationship is at now.