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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5763
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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In love with therapist

Resolved Question:

I have been in therapy with my therapist for over 2 years now and I have been pretty hopelessly in love with him for most of that time. I know it is transference but it seems so real. It seems to ebb at times but right now it feels pretty intense and I know it is holding me back in therapy not wanting him to know how much feeling I have for him. Not wanting to expose myself to possible humiliation. If I tell him I am afraid that might be the end of therapy and I don't think I am ready for that. I can't imagine starting all over with someone new. It's all to much and I don't know what to do about it. Not to mention the guilt I feel about my husband and family. My therapist is very ethical I know he would never cross that line I just don't know what to do. I guess I should mention the type of therapy it is prolonged exposure trauma work with a foundation in DBT. I have been diagnosised with PTSD and am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and incest.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


It is very natural to have transference with your therapist. It is actually very good that it happened for you (I know it doesn't feel that way!). Because you feel this transference, you have an opportunity to work on some very deep issues you have.


Transference occurs when a person in therapy feels safe enough with their therapist to "transfer" feelings they experienced from the past to the therapist. The person projects feelings onto the therapist that are unresolved. The relationship you have with your therapist is safe, so you are transferring feelings that you are in need of resolving in your life to your therapist. It is a way your mind helps you look at these feelings in a safe environment. This is a very powerful tool in your recovery.


It is perfectly ok to tell your therapist about your transference and I very much recommend that you do so. It is an important step in your therapy to working out how you feel. It may not be comfortable for you, but the therapist is trained to understand that you are not really in love with him, but that you are in need of working out an issue from your past that is unresolved. He will be able to use what you tell him to reach deeper within your issues and increase the effectiveness of his work with you.


When you talk with him about how you feel, you can present your feelings to him as transference and not being in love with him. Since you are very aware of transference, it means you are very insightful and understand that this is a therapeutic situation. So presenting your transference, rather than your feelings alone, will help you talk about this easier in therapy. Your transference will make your issues easier to resolve and be a wonderful benefit to your recovery.


I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I am afraid if I talk to him about this I will be abandoned by him. We have talked at length about my problems around attachment and he has acknowledged that I am attached to him and he has said he feels an attachment to me as well. Is this the same thing as transferance. I find this all incredibly humiliating and shameful. I am aware that our relationship is a construct and not really real and yet these feeling run so deep. I feel very foolish and confused. Are these feeling real? If I talk to him about it and continue therapy is there a good chance that these feeling will be resolved somehow?
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

If he would abandon you over the transference you feel, then he is not a good therapist in the first place. But from your description of him, this does not sound like the case. And since therapists are taught that transference is part of therapy, then he should not be surprised at all at your feelings. Transference is very common and a healthy part of therapy.


It depends very much on what he means when he tells you he feels attached to you. Most therapists develop a deep empathy with their clients. This may be what he is describing to you. Caring for the people you see is a must as a therapist and is part of the profession and the nature of being a therapist (much like a doctor with a good bedside manner). Crossing this line spells trouble, but from your description it does not sound like this is what has happened in your therapeutic relationship.


It is very natural to feel foolish and confused by how you feel. But the strength of your feelings indicate the level of the unresolved feelings you have. This is a good thing for your therapy and not real love. Real love cannot occur in therapy because the relationship must work both ways for it to be real. It is the very reason the therapist must stay neutral in therapy and not express their own feelings, so transference can take place.


Stay in therapy with him and work this out. You will find your transference is very helpful in your recovery.



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