Love and Therapy


no   name
Submitted   on 2013/10/14 at 6:07 am


Leave him. I   understand. He is abusive. He is letting his personal need get in the way of   effective therapy. He blurred the boundaries and now wants to take them   back….there are no take backs. Therapists do not understand this. We love   them unconditionally like we believe they love us, but we are just a patient,   a pay check to be dumped when we are nolonger useful. I am sorry if I am too   honest. But it is true. I understand your position and more…….. so much more.
God be with you.

“We love them unconditionally?”  Where did that come from?  The therapist should be UN-revealing about his/her personal characteristics to the point where we do not “love” them, but project on them the characteristics of the person we would like to love.  And if you believe that your therapist loves you then you are neither being open nor honest with your therapist.

You are in the relationship to learn about yourself, not to engage in a love fest with your therapist.  You are not “just” a patient, but you are a patient.  If you expect love from your therapist or feel you are in love with your therapist, then you need to tell your therapist that and both of you need to deal with it.  Therapy is not love and never has intended to be.

Therapy might be likened to learning to play the clarinet; it is a teaching-learning relationship.  You pay the teacher who is knowledgeable in the subject and you do not expect a loving relationship.

“Loving” a therapist is usually considered to be transference–you have transferred the feelings you might have for someone else, such as your father, to your therapist.  It is a therapist’s job to help you deal with these loving feelings–understand them and correctly direct them toward someone more appropriate, for example, someone whom you meet socially.

It is very common to have loving feelings for your therapist.  After all, he is devoting time to paying attention to only you; he is listening to you with great attention; his attention makes you feel important.  Probably you have been denied such attention in other relationships. If he is doing his job well, then you start to feel happier and you may mistakenly think he “made” you feel better.  In fact, he only led you on a path of self-discovery that enabled you to feel better about yourself.

My guess is that at some point you found yourself feeling love for your therapist, and he didn’t handle it well.  Many therapists turn tail and run when confronted by the love of a patient.  It is their job to stick with you and help you move on.  If your therapist dumped you then you would most naturally feel bitter, and feel like he only was in it for the money.

Fact is, most therapists genuinely want to help their patients; they also need to earn money. They combine the two and call it a career. Think of a therapist as a veterinarian–he really cares about animals and he earns a living treating them.  That doesn’t mean he loves every dog and bunny he treats.  Furthermore, you may love someone without that person (or animal) loving you in return.

My relationship with the person about whom I wrote began just as two people attending a conference.  Then it got dragged into a quasi-therapeutic relationship, which was inappropriate.  Therapy is not a loving relationship; it is a learning relationship.

Every therapist with any integrity has a supervisor hidden somewhere in the background.  If either the patient or the therapist is struggling with feelings of love for the other then either party should ask the supervisor to get involved and provide guidance.

Therapy is a profoundly dangerous profession in that it involves only two people and there is no exterior review by a third person on how the relationship is going.  Patients are usually unaware that the therapist is, or should be, meeting regularly with a supervisor.  In the case of the friend/therapist about whom I wrote, he was a supervisor, which makes you worry about the entire system.

If, in his arrogance, a therapist deems himself not to need a supervisor then you should get away from him fast.  No human being should work one-on-one with another human being in the delicate and complicated realm of human emotions without having some sort of supervisor in the mix.

At the beginning of the therapeutic relationship every “patient” should ask the therapist for the name and contact information of his supervisor.  You need to know that if something strange is going on then there is someone you can reach out to for guidance.  I had an extraordinary psychiatrist and my therapist and I agreed that if we had a problem then we would go to the psychiatrist for intervention, and on the single occasion that we needed to do it then it worked out very well for all of us.

Of course, there is always the argument that the therapist isn’t doing something strange; that it is something that you, as the “patient,” need to “work through.”  Okay, sure, fine—but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a supervisor help you with that.  Personally, I think that every therapeutic relationship should be on view to a trusted supervisor.  A couple times a year, therapy sessions should be conducted in a “mirror room” where the therapist and patient can be observed without the therapeutic relationship being disrupted.

We all need help from time to time, and that includes therapists.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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1 Response to Love and Therapy

  1. Results of the meta-analysis showed overall effect sizes between .23 and .33 (Hedge’s g of .70). Furthermore, rates of patient deterioration in psychotherapy were cut in half, and rates of positive responding were several times those of clients who received treatment without formal feedback. The most dramatic effects were achieved for the clients at risk for negative outcomes early in psychotherapy and for psychotherapists providing information about the client’s perception of the therapeutic relationship, motivation for treatment, social support system, and negative life events.

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