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Page Contents: Wanting to stop feelings of emotional neediness in psychotherapy.                    


I read question [Termination #1] on the page with interest and wondered if you could help me with a slight variation. I also have been in therapy for about seven years, but do (unlike the writer of the original question) feel it has helped me a lot to cope more effectively with emotions (even just to realize I HAD emotions!). I did not actually get particularly attached to the therapist for the first few years but have in the last few years become extremely attached. I also feel like it would be unbearable not to have this in my life and specifically not to have the therapist in my life. Like the other person, I have never looked to her for making decisions or even suggestions about decisions, but the emotional neediness remains very high at this point. Should I be doing something differently to stop the feelings? Sometimes I think that if I just quit out right (rather than talking about it with her, tapering down the frequency etc. etc.), it would be a lot easier. Do you have any suggestions? She and I do talk about the situation but she remains unworried and I remain worried. She says it is a natural course that differs for everyone.

Apparently you have done quite a bit of good work in the last seven years, so congratulations. As you say, learning that you have emotions is a big task. And so is learning that you have the capacity to experience a genuine attachment to another person. But, as I say on the Termination of Psychotherapy page, death is a part of life, and so the ending of psychotherapy is as important as its beginning and growth. Having learned how to get emotionally close to your psychotherapist, it is now necessary to make emotional honesty a part of every human relationship you have, and that means dissolving your identification with your psychotherapist. Otherwise, your relationship with your psychotherapist will be nothing more than a vain illusion that will lead you nowhere into the world around you.

Your mistake here is in wanting to “stop the feelings” of emotional neediness. As I say throughout this website, psychotherapy is not about getting rid of symptoms, it’s about making peace with them by listening to them and learning from them. So you have to face these feelings directly. I can assure you that it will be even more of a challenge to do this than it was to open up enough to get attached to your psychotherapist in the first place. But facing these feelings is crucial to the entire psychotherapeutic process. If you, with the collusion of your psychotherapist, avoid encountering this issue deeply and directly, the “therapy” will be left hanging, like a sentence without a period and


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