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TherapistMarryAnn
TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5770
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I feel a strong connection to my therapist and I feel a desire

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I feel a strong connection to my therapist and I feel a desire to become friends with her. I have researched the negative results of such relationships but my need for attachment to her rationalizes a possible friendship as being a likely positive thing. On the other hand, I don't want to be attached to ANYONE and I feel I should end the therapeutic relationship all together to avoid the hurt and disappointment that is sure to follow due to to my attachment issues with her. I'm so messed up. Is it the right thing to end the relationship and if so, should I seek out another therapist or forgo therapy all together?

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

It sounds like you are experiencing counter transference with your therapist. You may already be familiar with transference and counter transference but I will explain it a bit further.

Transference occurs from the client to the therapist. It is when feelings from early life and important people are put on the therapist. The client makes assumptions about the therapist's attitudes and feelings towards them or they form an attachment to the therapist that goes outside of the normal therapeutic relationship. This helps reveal some of the unresolved issues the client has from unmet needs and other ways they were treated as children. For example, if a female client was sexually abused, she may see the therapist as attracted to her when in fact he has shown no such behavior or attitude to indicate that he feels anything remotely sexual towards the client. These feelings are encouraged though because it helps the therapist understand the feelings and emotions around the sexual abuse and help the client to see them herself.

In counter transference, the therapist puts feelings onto the client. Ideally, your therapist should only share personal information with you if it helps your therapy. For example, if you have a child that has a drug issue you feel very ashamed, the therapist might use an example of a family member they have that had the same issue and how they handled it. But sharing more than that only hinders your progress. A therapist needs to keep a neutral as possible so you can transfer your feelings onto them and work them through.

You mentioned that you feel uncomfortable being attached to anyone in your life and that you are considering ending therapy to avoid this attachment to your therapist and the feelings that may follow. While it is understandable that you feel as you do, you may want to reconsider your options. Your feelings of attachment to your therapist show that there are attachment issues in your life that need addressed. Your therapist is the perfect person to express these feelings with because it is him/her that can help you recognize where these feelings come from and address them so you can form healthy attachments with others. And once you work through the attachment issues, you will no longer feel as you do with your therapist. Your relationship will go back to a normal one.

Keep in mind that what you are experiencing is a very normal part of therapy and is nothing to feel upset about. It happens a lot and is a good sign that your therapy is working and that you are recovering from whatever brought you to therapy in the first place.


I hope this has helped you,
Kate

TherapistMarryAnn and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I can't imagine not wanting to be friends with her. However, I am not an expert and that's why I asked you. She's truly a wonderful person (a bit deranged. Lol) and if I had met her elsewhere, there would be no question as to my forming a friendship with her. I have never felt a stronger platonic attachment to ANYONE. Yet, it appears it's all a common illusion brought about by psychoanalytical therapeutic recovery. You express that this a positive occurrence. However, I hope it's understood that for some patients (I assume I'm not alone in this) this particular occurrence may be fraught with pain, anxiety and emptiness when the patient is disillusioned. Therapy for me is very painful and I'm not looking forward to your prediction coming to fruition.
Thank you for your advice. I don't yet know what I will do.

It is very understandable that you feel the process of therapy is painful and difficult. It is in almost all cases so you are not alone with how you feel. And transference, while a normal part of therapy, is not easy either. I encourage you to do what you can to work through how you feel. But it is also ok if you do not. Everyone has to address how they feel at their own pace and in their own way.

My best to you,

Kate

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