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Ask Coach Jen K. Your Own Question

Coach Jen K.
Coach Jen K., LMSW, CPC
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1723
Experience:  Licensed Master Social Worker. Certified Life Coach
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Ive recently had what I believe was a misunderstanding with

Resolved Question:

I've recently had what I believe was a misunderstanding with my massage therapist who has now terminated my treatment because of it. I am a gay female who has been in a 30 year committed relationship in which I am very happy. I'm 58 yo. My therapist is a married straight woman about 35 years old. During the course of our 2 month professional relationship I realized that as I am prone to doing, I began to feel a certain level of compassion, caring toward her perhaps like that of a mother or older sister and I really wanted to share more with her than just our weekly sessions. I was interested really in just perhaps occasional emailing or maybe a Facebook friendship. Her interest in my activities became important to me and I was interested in hers on a friendly level. Knowing myself, I know the depth of this would have subsided over time but I made the mistake of being honest with her and she was unable to cope with it. Though I spoke with her on Tuesday and she said we would move forward with a professional relationship and I needed to realize that's all she could provide, which I agreed to and understood. But then she spoke to her mentor who apparently believed my ability to control myself was in question and advised her to terminate. Now I am feeling lost without my massage therapy and though I know I can find another therapist I feel the spiritual bond we had was a large part of the success of my treatment with her. I also feel like my character has been called into question and I never had any intention of crossing her boundaries, I simply wasn't clear on how restrictive they were since she had shared some things with me along the way that made me believe she could be more of a friend. She did use the words "for now" in her last call to terminate her services but I am unsure how to proceed. I would truly like her back as a therapist but don't want to cause her harm. Also she had told me at one point that she had a problem with boundaries and related that someone had crossed her boundaries in the past and it caused great harm. I feel kind of like I'm a victim of that persons actions as well.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Coach Jen K. replied 2 years ago.

CoachJenK :

Hi. Welcome. I am a Licensed Master Social Worker with more than 20 years experience working with individuals and families on a variety of issues.

Customer:

Hello.

CoachJenK :

hi. I am sorry for your pain around this. Lets talk about it...I think there are lots of layers here.

Customer:

I would agree!

CoachJenK :

is it possible that this relationship with the massage therapist was filling a void with your partner

Customer:

yes. my partner though wonderful, is not a very communicative person and does not like to think about things in a very deep analytical way though I do. My massage therapist being trained as she is was very interesting to talk to about spiritual things

CoachJenK :

exactly so it would make sense that your desire to connect on that deeper level would be there.

CoachJenK :

and why you are feeling so much pain now around the loss of that relationship and potential deeper friendship.

Customer:

yes, I have always been a compassionate person who needs social interaction at a fairly deep level

CoachJenK :

And it is not uncommon that when we are getting a massage we are in a vulnerable way and all of our emotions get tapped into and the feelings can develop

Customer:

I have also had many other occasions in the past where I have felt more deeply about others as friends than they have toward me..

CoachJenK :

not dissimilar to what can happen in a therapeutic situation

Customer:

never a sexual interest just a desire for a deeper relationship as friends

Customer:

correct though I don't feel it is at the level of transference

CoachJenK :

and that last statement leads me to believe that the void in your relationship causes you to desire more and to connect to others more to find that depth you need and deserve.

Customer:

yes

CoachJenK :

hard to feel it could be transference but on some level it is and that is okay.

Customer:

I guess I feel that I am clearly missing the level of emotional contact I need to be happy

Customer:

though again I want to say that I am very happy in my relationship with my partner.

CoachJenK :

I would agree with that and that is where the real issue lies and you can find these other people out there with whim you can connect but then the boundary of your relationship or theirs leaves you feeling alone and empty and you want more.

Customer:

that's pretty much it!

CoachJenK :

yes I understand but on some level there are some things that are missing that cause you to reach out and connect to others.

Customer:

in the current situation it concerns me that the therapist (Kim) is dealing with her own problems of boundaries based on past experience and I feel that she has not allowed me the chance to continue our professional relationship because of that past situation.

CoachJenK :

And in this case the massage therapist has put out her needs around this boundary and we must accept it and deal with the emotions that come up around it of loss and longing.

CoachJenK :

yes and that may be, but we cant solve that and if she needs to maintain it then we must respect it.

CoachJenK :

painful for you as it kicks up your feelings.

Customer:

I understand that but her use of the words "for now" in her call to terminate services makes me confused and makes me wonder if I might at some point be able to clarify this whole situation with her and go back to her in a professional relationship. I may be just hoping foolishly for resolution in a way that would really be better for both of us

CoachJenK :

I think at times people use that term because it is easier.

CoachJenK :

And sometimes after a space like this it is hard to go back as then things can be misinterpreted and you dont want that for yourself

Customer:

Yes I'm sure they do though it did seem like she was having a very difficult time making the call and as I said she seemed fine with everything until she spoke with her mentor.

CoachJenK :

yes and it could very well be that because she has had a boundary issue in the past she is being overly cautious and you are getting the brunt of that but as you know other peoples boundaries are important and need to be respected even if we feel differently about them.

Customer:

yes I know that, which is honestly why I was up front with her to start with, so wish I hadn't been now but I knew that I had to back off yet wanted her to be aware so that she could perhaps also take action to work toward keeping it professional. I wasn't expecting termination.

CoachJenK :

thats part of all relationships..negotiation the boundaries and see how they all fit together and in this case they are not fitting so well. sadly you are left feeling in pain over it.

CoachJenK :

and it is also quite possible that she had some feelings for you and these got confused woman to woman for her.

Customer:

Do you have any suggestions to help me move on then which I guess it is clear is all I can do at this point. I am sad that we both have lost in this situation but I understand intellectually (though my emotionally part is having a hard time catching up) that I can't change it. I need to find other outlets apparently for my emotional needs and I'm not sure what direction that will take, my life seems pretty boring and routine most of the time! It had given me at least something to look forward to.

CoachJenK :

I think the place to focus on is your relationship and to cultivate some passion and excitement that can fall by the wayside after many years of being together.

Customer:

It is interesting that while I was in massage therapy that passion in my relationship with my partner had started to come back. I think I had been opened emotionally to an exploration of my deeper being and it was helping. I kind of feel closed up again.

CoachJenK :

that is interesting. Because I think you were being stimulated and were able to have that release in your relationship but somehow we need to get you stimulated in your relationship.

CoachJenK :

your partner deserves that too.

Customer:

Yes, long term relationships get kind of stale and though the compassion for each other is still there and the confidant awareness that the other person loves and understands you is wonderful it does become stale. I might note that my partner is fully aware of the entire situation and is trying to be supportive. I know it is hard to see someone you care about hurting and being somewhat unreasonable about not letting go.

CoachJenK :

you said that perfectly...

CoachJenK :

so lets thing back to an earlier time between the two of you where we need to connect.

CoachJenK :

when you first met, the things you did together, the passion you had, the places you went. all of that needs to be re cultivated.

Customer:

I have tried through this whole thing to be very thoughtful, understanding and mature about it. That is part of what makes it so hard is that I really felt throughout that I was doing the right thing and that being caring and honest should never be punished

CoachJenK :

hard not to personalize it because it feels so personal.

CoachJenK :

I think underlying all this too is a sexual desire for this woman although that feeling may be buried a bit.

Customer:

when we first met my partner was an angry lonely person. All of her friends have since said that I have been a wonderful positive influence on her. She is very black and white in her view of the world, while I am the analytical, thoughtful one. But she seems to fare better in some ways emotionally because she just gets angry when people hurt her and then she moves on.

CoachJenK :

people come in and out of our lives for a reason and maybe this person came in to give a recharge and renewed focus on your current relationship.

Customer:

why do you feel there is a sexual desire? I really don't feel there is. Frankly, I am not a particularly sexual person. I don't care much about that and in those cases where I am attracted sexually to someone it is usually because they are very attractive. Kim is actually not even that physically attractive. I guess I could imagine that IF things were very different and we became very close friends I could see it going that way but I really don't feel that toward her. At most I could feel that I might feel compassionate enough to want to hug her to provide comfort.

CoachJenK :

well it feels deeper than just a friendship and often in female to female relationships that level of deep feeling is how sexual desire is displayed. Please know there are no judgments here...only opening up of things to look at.

Customer:

And in fact she was in the habit of hugging me either when I arrived for a session or when I left. She started that, not me, though I enjoyed the affirmation of concern it presented

Customer:

I understand.

CoachJenK :

yes and so she stepped over the boundaries and then felt she needed to pull back.

Customer:

I'm still I guess just so open on these things that it is hard for me to see that giving a client a hug in this type of situation, sharing emails during the interim between appointments or showing any level of friendship (short of sharing intimate information of course) is beyond the boundaries. Hers, obviously but not in general terms.

CoachJenK :

yes because your spirit is more of the open kind making it hard to see if another's isn't in line with that.

Customer:

I have other providers (doctors) whom I've given gifts to and shared personal things with who have not been this whigged out by it.

CoachJenK :

And yes her mentor may have suggested it thinking you might do something untoward and she wanted to protect her student. Not that any of that would happen but the mentor has no idea and goes into protective mode.

CoachJenK :

as i said she may have been having some feelings for you and was spooked by them.

Customer:

Well, I guess we can't change anything here, I need to move on. I will work toward that and toward finding whatever emotional support I can elsewhere. I don't think it is likely that my partner will change after all this time. I knew who she was when we started our relationship and it has never been an issue for me before so perhaps I just need to accept it as well. But something is missing and I need to find it.

Customer:

I'm sorry I didn't mean that to sound angry. I am just frustrated.

CoachJenK :

yes I think all of what you say is true. you have wonderful insight. but it is not about changing your partner but you can restimulate some fun and passionate feelings.

CoachJenK :

All is okay here with me...no need to apologize...I hear your pain and frustration. no worries.

Customer:

I am frustrated that relationships have to be so difficult, that people misconstrue so much and that all of the spiritual teachings of those who are supposed to know about such things are so much poppycock. The whole idea of expanding ones self to experience loving kindness is just so meaningless if when you do...you are rebuffed.

CoachJenK :

it is always hard to accept things when we dont fully understand it

CoachJenK :

that just means to me that the expansiveness of your spirit is with the wrong ones.

CoachJenK :

so go seek like minded individuals with whom you can share your spirit and take in theirs.

Customer:

that is clearly true but it's more frustrating knowing the ones it is with are ones who are supposedly trained and open to that!

CoachJenK :

absolutely...good point.

CoachJenK :

and all the training in the world doesnt necessarily give enlightenment...it needs to be there.

Customer:

yes I thought I was, Kim is very into the eastern spiritual training, a yoga teacher, meditates has practiced a lot of this stuff and one thing we shared was an interest in eastern spirituality which is new to me but not to her

CoachJenK :

and even with all that training and practice she is human underneath it all and has limitations as well.

Customer:

I appreciate your insight and help with this. You have clarified some things for me, allowed me to express them in a way that helps me see them more clearly. In the end I guess it just comes down to me having to accept what is and move on. I will attempt to work on the things we've discussed and to move forward. I do expect to find another massage therapist though I am a little ambivalent about it right now, I do need it for the physical well being.

CoachJenK :

It is my pleasure. You can come to me anytime for support or to process anything. I am here.

CoachJenK :

Please take a moment to click on the rating tab to offer a rating of my work. My goal is EXCELLENT support and I hope I have provided that to you.

Customer:

Thank you. Is there anything else or further you feel we should discuss? I'm a little emotionally tired with this whole situation.

CoachJenK :

I think taking some time on your won can be healing....focus on your breathing and your relaxation will be helpful.

CoachJenK :

*own

CoachJenK :

reach out to me if you need to.

Customer:

Is it possible to reach out to you specifically?

Customer:

As I don't want to have to rehash all this with someone new.

Customer:

If I need to talk further

CoachJenK :

yes. If you begin a new question put for CoachJenK only at the beginning and I get an email that you are looking for me.

Customer:

Ok, thanks again. Blessings.Betty

CoachJenK :

blessings to you Betty. Keep that open and loving hear and spirit of yours. thank you in advance for a positive rating. I am not credited for my work otherwise.

Coach Jen K., LMSW, CPC
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1723
Experience: Licensed Master Social Worker. Certified Life Coach
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