Help, I think I love my therapist!
How do I know if my therapist loves me?
What do I do if I think my therapist loves me?
How do I get my therapist to love me?
Am I supposed to hate the therapist I love?
I’ve been amazed at how many questions like these bring folks to Feeling Up in Down Times. Therapy love feels real, and it is real. It’s just not real love. It’s therapy love.
Transference – all the feelings you put onto your therapist that really emanate from somewhere, someone else. You idealize your therapist, adore your therapist, and then, at some point, you see the shortcomings and the inevitable happens. He or she becomes real, flawed, and not nearly so fantastic as your perfect transference version. Sometimes, you even hate her; talk about falling off the pedestal.
Countertransference – all the feelings your therapist has about you! Some say these emanate from your therapist’s own stuff, and others say you, the patient, bring these feelings out in your therapist. Either way, your therapist has feelings about you, too. But those feelings exist in the bubble of time that is your session, in the work that goes on between you.
Therapy love exists in the intimate moments of sharing your innermost thoughts with someone who listens to you, and who, in listening for the healthiest parts of you, helps you find and grow them. Who wouldn’t fall in love with that person, just a little? And how could a therapist who really sees you and accepts you not love you, just a little?
It’s a shared space that really doesn’t exist anywhere else, a place where you can say, be, do whoever and whatever – and you are safe. Safe to be yourself in relation to another person, your therapist, who is there only for you and your best interest. Your therapist loves you. You love your therapist. But it’s a special kind of love that only exists in the rarefied bubble that is psychotherapy. Take it out of the therapy space and it really doesn’t work at all. Because it’s not the love of two people who know one another; it’s all about you.
But in the therapeutic relationship, ah, it’s love all right. It’s therapy love.
Copyright © 2009 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.