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.
You are absolutely right, you are vulnerable in therapy. Even when your therapist works to gain your trust, as she / he should, you can only know then that the therapist will do all they can to protect you from unnecessary hurt, and help you recover when you are hurting. You can get hurt during therapy in many ways, not only by mistakes the therapist could make with you, but by remembering things you forgot or never knew, or learning to see things that happened to you in a new light that is hurtful to you to realize. You may learn and grow from these new insights and understandings but initially they may hurt. So even the best therapist taking the best care of you can not shield you entirely from being vulnerable and experiencing hurt.
Maybe the only real answer to your question is to encourage you to be brave and deal with your vulnerability head on. Definitely don’t work with a therapist unless you can trust them to be both competent and caring. Know that things that are difficult and painful initially may be the very things that set you free from old alliances that aren’t worth keeping so steadfastly. Know that learning the deeper truths of your life will make it better, and that coming upon wounds that need healing is worth the work and the time. Pick your guide carefully and then take yourself, fears and all, into the fray. How wise of you to realize your vulnerability! Keep that wisdom with you and watch for all the other things you will learn as your wisdom grows. My best to you.
It feels touching, just as seeing anyone say I matter to them would feel touching to me. Knowing that it is part of the ‘set up’ as a therapist, i.e. that if I do my job well my clients may well become ‘attached’ or have positive transference, doesn’t make it any less real a feeling to the client and thus to me when expressed. I would probably assure them that they are important to me too, but in a different way. I often say “ I am invested in you” – which means I am invested in their being OK in their lives and doing well, which is true. That seems to make things feel a bit more congruent, although they are not even at all. That’s why the therapist never takes advantage of the clients feelings towards them.