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.
I’ve been asked how much therapists really ‘get it’ about how much they effect their clients’ daily lives with what they say and do. I say it depends on the quality of the therapist. It doesn’t hurt if the therapist has been in therapy themselves and experienced the power of transference.
Good therapists know very well how significant they are to their clients, certainly want to avoid their clients’ losing them, and pay attention to what they say and do. Good therapists put themselves into a “good parent mode” when they are working, and are careful about balancing nurturing and challenging interventions that are intended to promote growth. Even the way a phrase is delivered can make an important impression. It’s part of the therapist’s job not to be overly tired, and certainly not irritable, from their own life.
I often feel as it I have the ‘client’s life in my hands’ knowing full well how powerful my words and actions can be for them. Doing therapy is not a casual business. That’s why therapists are tired after a day of sessions. They have been working hard, mentally and emotionally, to give each client their best.
Are you dissatisfied with your therapy? Is it you or is it your therapist? Let’s evaluate and find out.
First I will tell you what is reasonable to expect from a competent, experienced therapist. In the next post I will explain the notion of transference, positive and negative, and then how to work with your current therapist to see if negative transference is the problem.
Here are some fair expectations you should have of your therapy process and your therapist:
- You should make progress. If you don’t think you are, ask your therapist why they think you are or aren’t making progress. Don’t automatically discount your your own instincts. Listen but don’t assume the therapist knows more than you do just because they are “the professional” if what they say doesn’t make sense to you.
- You should get something new out of every session. If you are not, ask yourself if your therapist is:
- not really working when you are in session – they should be.
- just being “someone to talk to”: therapists should have a lot more than this to offer.
- not clearly showing you how to get engaged in your sessions: You have to if you want to grow.
- just giving advice: you should be learning how to answer your own questions and make your own decision.
- You should be learning from your therapist. Your therapist should know more than you do about the general kinds of issues you are dealing with. They should be able to clearly relate this understanding to your specific situation.
- You shouldn’t feel worried about your therapist’s feelings – it’s the therapist’s job to take care of themselves. The therapist should call you on doing this and reassure you they don’t need or want this from you.
- You should feel your therapist likes and cares about you. If your therapist doesn’t accept who you are and like things about you, you deserve more.
- Your therapist should have several ways to approach you and your problem. You should never feel like you are supposed to fit into their way of doing therapy.
If these expectations are not being met, talk to your therapist about them. It is also reasonable to look for another therapist. Remember, just because this therapist is set up in an office or clinic doesn’t mean they are good at their trade.
On the other hand, if you find yourself repeatedly switching therapists I would recommend you stick with your current therapist and make a sincere effort to work out your dissatisfaction.
If you fire a therapist, it may rid you of the problem at hand, but another version of that same problem will likely show up with your next therapist. You need to give your current therapist 3 to 5 more sessions while you focus on working out your relationship. This may well be about transference which is the unconscious phenomena of transferring feelings from one person to another; in this case unconsciously transferring your feelings for some one else in your life to your therapist.
Transference is one of the reasons therapy can work so well and it is also a reason why it can fail. More about that next in “Transference in Therapy“.
Question: I have tried psychotherapy in the past without as much success as I would have liked. I would like to try again but how do I find a better therapist?
Not every therapist is right for every client so choosing the right therapist for yourself is essential. After the basic competence of the therapist, it is the relationship between the therapist and client that matters most. You need to find someone with whom you can build an effective therapeutic relationship. Fortunately there are usually enough choices, so consider several and find one that feels right to you.