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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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I had a session with my therapist of 21 months a few days ago.

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I had a session with my therapist of 21 months a few days ago. Things were going along great until I brought up "attachment"...a lifelong pattern and currently therapist is the object. As the session was going so well I decided to basically test myself a bit. Before I knew it though I had worked myself up into a "perception" that because I had improved the natural course would be for me to now end therapy. I became uncomfortable with this (theme of therapy for me has been unconscious abandonment fears played out many times which has made me want to run and tried but never could). She was basically just sitting watching me go thru this and was not suggesting anything...I think she probably wanted me to see my pattern and that she had nothing to do with my perception as I have disassociated before and thought she was suggesting that I end therapy or atleast take a break and I cannot recover those memories fully but I was pleading then but I have finally stopped obsessing about them and have been moving on which she complimented me on this last session. I broke down and pleaded basically that I have other things to accomplish still...she never said for me to end therapy it was my desperation talking. I'm not diagnosed Borderline...I am diagnosed Dysthymic disorder. I have acted out of emotions/impulsiveness many times and am trying to get a handle. Might this be a good time to take a break from therapy and basically re-evaluate...or "lean in." I am so indecisive. I don't want to deny myself getting over this attachment/abandonment and quit or take a break at the wrong time. This pattern I have gone over so many times that I am so aware and it feels like it is slowly minimizing but in a quick second it feels like panic in losing therapy. I hope this makes sense. Better to "lean in" or "break" for a time? I just want the thoughts of a professional who has had success in dealing with this type of thing. Thanks in advance.
Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.

There appears to be two things going on here. One, is that you have a transference issue in therapy (which is very common and actually encouraged), and/or two, your therapist is possibly not coping with the issue as she needs to be.

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 therapy when transference occurs, the therapist is responsible for seeing what is going on and addressing it directly. That helps the person in therapy process what is going on and use what happened to help themselves. If your therapist is helping you with this process, that is exactly what should happen. If not, then you may want to consider talking to her about what you can do to address it.

When transference occurs, it is always a good idea to stay with therapy. The transference is a sign that therapy is working and that you feel safe in therapy, enough to express deeper issues. And working through transference is healthy. It can be tricky to deal with this level of attachment because of the intensity of it, but it is very normal and should work its way through in the course of therapy.

I hope this has helped you,
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your answer. It is most definitely transference and I've talked about it before...maybe time for more discussion. She never addressed it directly...I did. She is "eclectic/psychodynamic" and not directive. I do feel secure generally and she has adapted to me which makes me feel a bit safer to talk about things I used to feel she too dismissed but I know now that I can tip-toe back into those areas if I wish too. It nearly ruined therapy for me with her for quite some time but it must have been the hope and the child in me getting her to come around to my side and listen to me. Anyways, too much about that. Thanks so much it is good that I can come back here whenever I like to read your response.

You're welcome! I'm glad the answer helped. It sounds like you are doing well in therapy and that once the transference issue is worked through, it should improve for you. As long as you feel you are making progress, then it is ok to stay with what you are doing.

Take care,


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Thank you so much!

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