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.
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
The job of the therapist is to use yourself as an instrument, and be aware of how you ( your instrument) reacts. If you feel angry, irritated or bored with a client, very likely other people would also. So you use the information you’ve received, by your own reaction, in some manner that would be helpful to the client. The trick here is note your feelings to yourself, think about why the client is probably acting the way he is, and not express them as they are felt, for example – not speak angrily. The therapist’s job is to find a way to explain to the the client, so he can understand, how he is creating this reaction in another person without sounding critical. Then it’s the therapist’s job to help the client understand what is going on within himself.
Similarly, if, as therapist, you are “tiring” of your client, or getting bored, it is a signal (to me anyway) that the client is not being authentic, or is not going anywhere useful, i.e. being repetitive. This too can be communicated to the client without judgement and in a clarifying way to help the client in self awareness.
This takes skill, more than simple self control, because you as therapist have to know how to reach that particular client.
What you say may be experienced by the client as a confrontation but one that includes having the therapist’s arm around you, metaphorically.
I have been a psychotherapist for 40 years and have done energy work for most of that time. Now, as a Holy Fire III Reiki Master, I am letting the Madison community know that I enjoy combining Reiki healing work with psychotherapy for many of my clients who are open and interested in both.
Usually people are happy to put forth “to my highest good” as their intention in their energy work, and therefore the energy work expands on the psychotherapy they are presently involved in and enhances their growth. Because the source of the information that is made available is beyond what I or my clients consciously are aware of, these sessions can be especially provocative and useful.
I have also been helpful for people have difficulties with illnesses, injuries and ongoing health problems. I am happy to accept clients who are only looking for energy healing and not interested in taking on a course of psychotherapy.
Because you are in transference with this therapist. That means, you experience the therapist as if he or she is a parent to you, and all of us want our parents to love and approve of us. Your therapist is a stand in parent to you.
In fact, “working in the transference” means to a savvy therapist , that giving their support, approval , validation, etc, is very healing to their clients. Therapists should know this and do this. I keenly remember how much it meant to me to have my therapist value and like me. I have said that her words were “mainlined directly to the two year old in me.” That was so very healing, and I never forgot it, so I do the same for my clients. I work in the transference, meaning everything I say and do with my clients is with the awareness that I am a stand in parent and have the opportunity to re-parent, to heal, the child within the grown up who is my client.
So what you are asking about is pretty much true for all psychotherapy clients, and the stronger the transference, normally, the stronger the need for a loving parent to give the child within the adult client the esteem building care they needed and can still profit from. I hope your therapist understands this. It is why so many people say that in therapy “ the relationship heals.”
I have other blogs about transference. You might be interested in this phenomena since it effects everyone in therapy.
Good luck to you. I hope you are getting what you deserve.
It is clear to me almost the first session which couples are going to get what they want out of couple therapy relatively quickly and who is going to be coming for a long time. It has to do with a willingness to be open to new ideas, a willingness to make changes and to learn new things, and a willingness to make the effort to have this happen.
Another huge piece is to stop blaming your partner and for what’s wrong in the relationship and look to yourself to see what you can do differently.
It takes a certain amount of strength in self, ego strength some people call it, to be able to do this without collapsing on the one hand or blowing up on the other. Good couple therapists know this and provide vehicles for the couple to build personal strength so that they can grow, as partners, in their communication and caring for one another.
Snakes live in the forest. Every day they travel over rough ground – pebbles, rocks, fallen trees with uneven bark. Every Spring they get a new skin, and it happens this way: the old skin stretches and loosens. It eventually detaches, over time, from the snakes body, and the new skin shows up underneath.
The old skin never falls off until the new skin has had the time to toughen up and manage the rough terrain the snake goes through. When It first appears, the new skin is delicate and pink, but by the time it is ready to protect the snake from it’s daily environment, it has become brown and strong.
It’s never the therapist’s job to pull he skin off a snake.