They listen. They hear you. They give you space for your thoughts and feelings. These are all things that we tend to want out of intimate relationships. They know details of your life that you may not share with anyone else. Therefore, it is not an unusual phenomenon to have feelings for your therapist. However, this will likely lead to very ineffective therapy if these feelings are not addressed. So, what do you do next?
As uncomfortable as it may be, talking about it is the best option. Give your therapist a heads up that you are noticing some feelings towards them. Likely, your therapist has had this happen before. Or if not, they know how to address this.
Therapists are trained in understanding a concept called “transference.” Transference is when you have specific feelings or expectations towards a person that is actually applied onto a different person, who may be more accessible. In this case, it would be your therapist that you are “placing” the feelings towards. You and your therapist can explore whether this is a case of transference, or not.
This is a great opportunity to address what those feelings and thoughts may represent or what you may be needing from your other relationships. It may be very hard to disclose these feelings as it can feel incredibly vulnerable, but it will be a great step forward in therapy when you do.
Another thing you can also do is reflect upon how these feelings may be impacting you. Are they keeping you from making progress in therapy? Is it difficult to concentrate or focus in sessions? Have these feelings changed your perspective of your therapy sessions? Are you expecting something different to come out of therapy, now? If so, do you think that you can move through these feelings by talking about them?
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Another option that is always available, is finding a new therapist. It is always recommended to speak with your therapist first before changing therapists, so there can be communication and understanding about the ending of your relationship. You may ask your therapist for recommendations of new therapists or find someone else who may be a more appropriate fit for what you are needing at the time.
Keep in mind that feelings for your therapist can be normal, and that it may be a representation of something more. Luckily, therapy is a perfect place to explore feelings of all kinds, although it may take a bit of courage on your end as the client to start digging in. Allow this discomfort to push your therapy to the next level.