A Guide to Psychology and its Practice -- welcome to 
                     the «Questions and Answers» page. Click on the image to go to a general Introduction 
                     with a complete Subject Index to this entire website.

and Answers


Website Menus

Page Contents: An attachment to an older psychotherapist.                    


I am a 17 year old girl seeing a psychologist in his 50s. I’ve been seeing him for a year and a half now. He helps me so much, but I am starting to have an attachment/attraction to him. Sometimes he seems to feel the same way, talking about “us” or will compliment my physical appearance. I am flattered, but at the same time—confused. I’ll be leaving in a year to go off to college, so how can I get rid of this attachment? Also, was it “ok” for him to give me compliments?

When a 17 year old girl sees an older male psychologist, it’s only expected that she will develop an attraction to him. Regardless of how this attraction may be experienced personally, the core of the experience will be what could be called a “father transference”. That is, her attraction to the psychotherapist derives from everything she ever wanted in a good father: kindness, attention, validation, guidance, and so on.

The unconscious proof of this for you is that you referred to yourself as a “17 year old girl,” not as a 17 year old young woman. In your own language you locate yourself in the psychotherapy relationship as a daughter to her father.

Now, the danger of such a transference is the danger of any transference: it can come to be taken personally. That is, on the one hand, your psychologist might grow to feel romantically attracted to you, and, if he doesn’t immediately recognize this countertransference and deal with it appropriately, he could start flirting with you and ruin the whole treatment. On the other hand, you might grow to feel romantically attracted to your psychologist. In fact, many women have gotten involved with older men precisely because of a father transference that occurred in ordinary life.

You cannot, however, “get rid” of such a transference attachment. Instead, it will be important to recognize it for what it is and learn from it. So your task will be to understand just what was lacking in your own father that you find in your psychologist; then you will have to speak about all this openly and directly to your psychologist. In fact, this is precisely what psychotherapy is all about: using events in the present to understand the past, and then, having talked about and healed the wounds from the past, being able to act in a new, healthy manner in the present.

And, as you talk openly with your psychologist about your feelings for him, keep your eye on him. Watch out for any hint that he might be taking it all personally. He could be giving compliments as a father would compliment his daughter, and that’s perfectly “OK.” But if you see any indication of a wolf in counselor’s clothing, then tell him so, and terminate immediately, while you have the chance.


 Back to the list of questions


No advertising—no sponsor—just the simple truth . . .

If this website has helped you, then
please help support this website

FOR THE SAKE OF TRUTH this website about the practice of Clinical Psychology does not accept any advertising.

Therefore, if my work has been informative and helpful to you, please send a donation in appreciation, even if it’s only a few dollars, to help offset my costs in making this website available to everyone without advertising.

Gratitude is joy to the heart!


Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D.
San Francisco
Contact Me




A Guide to Psychology and its Practice



Copyright © 1997-2017 Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
San Francisco


All material on this website is copyrighted. You may copy or print selections for your private, personal use only.
Any other reproduction or distribution without my permission is prohibited.



No advertising and no sponsor—just the simple truth.