One of the things we desire in intimate relationships is to be heard and given space to express our thoughts and feelings. This is precisely what therapists offer, often knowing intimate details of our lives that we may not share with others. It’s not uncommon to develop feelings for your therapist, but if left unaddressed, this can negatively impact your therapy. So, what can you do about it?
Be Open With Your Therapist
Although uncomfortable, discussing your feelings with your therapist is the best course of action. Let them know that you are experiencing feelings towards them. They have likely dealt with this before, and if not, they know how to handle it.
Therapists are trained in a concept called “transference,” which refers to the application of specific feelings or expectations towards one person that are actually meant for another person who may be more accessible. Your therapist can help determine whether this is a case of transference or not, and advise you accordingly.
Consider What You Can Learn
This is an excellent opportunity to explore the underlying reasons for your feelings and what you might be seeking from your other relationships. It can be challenging to open up about these emotions, but it is a critical step in advancing your therapy.
It’s also worth reflecting on how these feelings might be impacting your therapy. Are they hindering your progress, making it hard to concentrate, or changing your perspective on therapy sessions? If so, do you believe that discussing them will help you move past them?
Make a Decision With Your Therapist
If you feel uncomfortable continuing therapy with your current therapist, you may want to consider finding a new one. Before ending your relationship with your therapist, it’s advisable to communicate your decision and work together to find a more appropriate fit. Your therapist may even be able to recommend someone who can better meet your needs at this time.
If you and your therapist conclude that these feelings are simply a case of transference, in which case they can help you redirect your emotions to the right person. If this happens, it can spark a significant breakthrough in your treatment, allowing you to continue working with your therapist. However, it’s still wise to remain cautious in case the feelings return.
It’s important to remember that having feelings for your therapist is not unusual, and therapy is the ideal place to explore all kinds of emotions. Although it may require some courage, discussing these feelings can take your therapy to the next level.
- Levy, K. N., & Scala, J. W. (2012). Transference, transference interpretations, and transference-focused psychotherapies. In Psychotherapy (Vol. 49, Issue 3, pp. 391–403). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029371
- Macalpin, I. (1950). The Development of the Transference. Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19(4), 501–539. https://doi.org/10.1080/21674086.1950.11925820