You and Your Therapist: Part IIa. Therapy Love, Revisited

Sometimes I feel like there’s a wall between me and my therapist.  And sometimes I wish there were some sort of wall between me and my therapist!  It doesn’t make any sense to me.  And I worry:  does it mean she can’t help me?

It’s making me so uncomfortable!  How do I stop falling in love with my therapist?  It’s making me so uncomfortable! How do I keep my therapist from falling in love with me? 

Sometimes I think I don’t even like my therapist.  Do I have to for therapy to work?  I don’t think my therapist even likes me.  Does she have to for therapy to work? 

I hate it when my therapist is mad at me.   Why does it bother me so much? What do I do?  I hate it when I am mad at my therapist.  Why does it bother me so much?  What do I do?

Questions like these just keep rollin’ in to us here at Feeling Up in Down Times.  In the initial installment of Therapy Love, we addressed those good  (sometimes confusingly so) feelings:  loving your therapist – or wondering if your therapist loves you.  But what about all the uncomfortable negative feelings:  worrying if your therapist secretly hates you – or if you secretly hate your therapist?  Worrying if your therapist is angry with you for not acting on what you’ve supposedly been learning in your therapy.  Worrying if you’re too angry with your therapist for therapy to be helpful.

When you come to trust someone as much as you can the therapist you share so much of yourself with, when you come to trust your therapist “gets” you, you’d think you’d feel comfortable, safe, free to be yourself.  And that is usuallythe case.  But in a cruel twist of fate, it can also mean that whatever negative feelings do come up seem particularly meaningful and important.  And that, in turn, makes it both more uncomfortable to share them with your therapist – and more important to do so.

Maybe those negative feelings are so uncomfortable because the relationship comes to matter so much.  Because therapy love just feels so real, almost like the real thing.  Therapy Love is a real thing, it’s just not the realthing.  Therapy love is a state of heightened emotions in a situation where your every emotion is under a microscope:  one you and your therapist share and look through together.  Or – often and –  a microscope you’re uncomfortable having anyone else look through, especially your therapist.  All in an intimate relationship that looks and feels just enough like a real life relationship to make you wonder:  what’s going on here, and what do I do about it?

You take a deep breath.  You bring it up, into the light of day.  You explore the realm of contradictory feelings, the juxtaposition of loving and hating.  Because the one thing you can count on if you do risk sharing those tough feelings with your therapist  is that you’ll learn an awful lot.  About yourself.  About yourself in relationships. It’s rare to have a dedicated person and place to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly – with the very person you’re feeling those things about, when you’re feeling those things.  Unlike the other people you may love, your therapist doesn’t have any vested interest in the outcome.  Your therapist is working for your insight, in your best interest.  It starts in the relationship between you, but it extends beyond that, way beyond that.

Even with any fears or anger or disappointment.  Even better than any fantasies.  And  that just might be the best thing about Therapy Love.

Copyright © 2012 Marlin S. Potash. All rights reserved.

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7 responses to “You and Your Therapist: Part IIa. Therapy Love, Revisited

  1. Hmm. Im not sure i agree it’s not the real thing. It is unrequited (at least in any parallel sense) and limited in time, space and possibility but doesn’t that happen outside of therapy sometimes too?. The new mother madly in love with her newborn. The adult child loving a parent that no longer recognizes her through dementia. The abused child that loves a parent in spite of not being loved in return. It is painful because it is real. And like the latter two examples, at times feels cruel in its inherent imbalance.

  2. My therapist had been gone only nine days and I was a nervous wreck!!
    I had therapy today (first one since she got back) and I practically had a
    panic attack. I became dis-associative (her words) and I couldn’t look at her
    through the entire session. I almost walked out. I couldn’t stand her knowing
    how much I had missed her… but she knew anyway. I left work for a while
    just to get my head on straight. I feel like I didn’t even go to therapy.
    Now I don’t see her for another 3 days aaaahhhhhhh!
    Because she is so incredibly compassionate she wants me to call her
    every day over the weekend and leave her messages on her voice mail.
    I guess for me to try and stay connected. But i just feel like I’m talking into a
    vacuum. She won’t get my messages until Monday morning. God, I hate this
    transference stuff. It is so incredibly painful. I don’t know how to get over it.

  3. I’m having feelings for my therapist that are very erotic, graphic and sexual and I can’t seem to stop thinking about her. We have only had about 6 sessions and anger seemed to me my main issue, as well as an unprocessed childhood trauma. My childhood trauma was brought up great detail in the sessions and I feel so much better and far less angry. Told my therapist that I thought that she was a great psychologist for helping me with the unprocessed trauma.

    My therapist is a bi women and I am woman with a gay/questioning sexuality. I had previously mentioned to her that I was having trouble concentrating since all my childhood memories were being brought to the surface, however, I did not mention my erotic feeling towards her. I once saw my therapist’s eyes really light up, when as I talking about a female friend of mine, who really upset me by aggressively interrogating me over a canteen table.

    I feel that my therapist might have counter transference issues and said she could not concentrate enough to correctly book our next appointment.

    I some ways I am hoping that my therapist will ‘not’ contact me with a new appointment date. I have feelings for her that are too strong and too sexual for me to benefit from the therapy. Also, the therapist has not been too interested in discussing my past relationships and if I bring up the ‘relationship’ topic, she quickly asks one question and then moves onto another subject.

  4. What if it really is love. I love her. I do. I know the difference. I am an adult woman, and I know. The thing I do not know is how I am going to handle this. I suppose we could walk through it. She is married, and I respect that. But I do know that I am in love with her. She is my type. The difference is that is will be unrequited. That is going to be a real issue for me. Please know that it is not transference. It is love. I feel all the shit you feel when you are falling for someone. I do know that real love needs the other end.

  5. Hello, I am going thru this right now & I have no-one to talk to about it.
    I’ve been seeing my cpn now for over 4 years, I am 30 and she is slightly older. I am gay & I have my suspicions that she may be too.
    Things came to a head last year when I asked her if we could be friends outside of ‘work’ – we just seem to get on well & she’s totally the type of person I like.
    Well, this resulted in a very embarrassing ‘chat’ in which she tried her best to tell me why that couldn’t happen. She had to speak to her supervisor & then speak to me with someone else in the room. It was all very awkward & I could see she was getting a bit flustered & blushing. I left feeling awful.
    With me convincing her that things would be kept ‘official’ she has continued to work with me. My feelings have been growing for her again lately & I just wanted to know, if it was something she felt too & we were both consenting, then would that be so wrong? I even went and said I’d see a different cpn if it meant we could be friends…..
    Any help would be much appreciated.
    Toni

  6. Hey, I read all the comments and I also have some concerns about my therapist. I’ve been seeing her for two months (once a week). At the beginning I thought she is nice and caring and there were signs that she really cares. However, after the third session, I felt like there is something wrong and I was thinking to quit therapy. I really wanna talk about the signs and I wanna hear form you guys. First, she does not remember the significant things that I talked about. I mean she supposed to remember the important details. Second, she does not close the door when I enter the room and instead let me do that (it might be silly or not important to think about) however, I feel like she is the first one who does that. Third, when I tell her about my relationship with my sister she says nothing and when I laughed about the horrible thing that I did to her she laughs with me. I feel like she is not supposed to laugh, she is supposed to advice me. Do you think that I should quit or I should ignore my feelings and continue with her?

  7. My experience from almost eight years with a therapist is they are human and can laugh the same as you do. They don’t give “advice” as much as prod you to question yourself. After I told her that I love her, about 2 years into therapy, she tried to squelch any outward signs of emotion. She was only fairly good at that. She has a mind like a steel trap, and remembers details from long-ago conversations, without taking notes. Maybe let her know that you feel it’s important that she remembers what you tell her, although usually it’s not the sundry details, but the guts of your feelings that matter most.

    As for who closes the door and small things like that, try not to read too much into it. I am an expert at reading too much into little things, and have come to realize that I don’t do and say things with “hidden meanings”, so why do I expect she does?

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