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Page Contents: Surprised by transference in psychotherapy.                    


I started therapy about 20 months ago, was very short and then we pass to counseling, I started to go twice a month, then every month now about every six to eight weeks. . . . I too, have strong feeling of transference for my therapist, however I feel those feelings are good, and provide me with a sense of power and wellness. At the same time this produce on my some kind of frustration, but I (rationally) understand this, I feel strong desire to be close to my therapist, but I can’t picture myself out of his office with him, I want him, but I prefer him as my therapist. What surprised my more, is that your repeated over and over, that you need to let you therapist know about those feeling. So far I never considered to disclosure this feeling to him, that can be so awkward, and would make me feel out of place. I really feel this transference enrich and empower me, but is mine to keep, and is out of question . . . to share it with him. I think if I disclose to him my transference feeling I will give him the upper hand. . . . However, and in a way, I feel kind of cheated on, (and not by my therapist, but by this whole therapy system) when you go to therapy, minding your own business, or your own problems in this case, (at the beginning, I just went for marital problems) how naive I was, I get a lot more that what I bargain for. Happen out of nowhere struck me like a big hard rock that I did not see coming or know what it was, the transference feelings, was like I go to the doctor for an aspirin, and ended up with major surgery. . . . First I wondered, why he did not tell me anything about this? (I did not even know was called transference) why my therapist remain silent in spite of what he or we know? . . . [A]nyway I think he knows very well what is going on, I love him dearly but that is it, I don’t see the point to tell him, I just control my feelings, and that by itself feel as a good therapy. Sometimes, out of the blue, a strong desire to see him and talk to him overcome me, and is then when I am aware that can not just follow my impulses. When this happen I just wait a few days to this urgent feeling to pass, however if in my thinking I found that really exist a legitimate reason to see him I do not delay my session. At one time I was afraid about the therapy termination, now I am not. I know it will finish some day, for now, I have plans to keep it as long as I can. When therapy is over I will treasure what I learned about myself with his guide, I will treasure the hours we spend talking and what he gave me, I will treasure his empathy, kindness and gentleness. I will treasure like something priceless. And I will deeply grateful to my creator to allow us to cross paths.
P.S. I apologize for my writing, English is my second language, and I struggle writing.


Your questions and comments actually raise two different issues.

First, all many psychotherapy clients find themselves asking, “Why wasn’t I warned about the matter of transference before my treatment started?” In fact, most psychotherapists do not give such a warning to new clients. Yes, all competent psychotherapists have been taught about transference, but that training can vary from just a couple paragraphs read in a textbook in an introductory course on psychotherapy to extensive seminars on the subject. Still, even though a competent psychotherapist may know about transference, it usually does not occur to many psychotherapists to include a mention of it in their Office Policies form where they should state clearly the risks of treatment.

Second, you raise the point about talking about your feelings of affection for your psychotherapist.

As I say throughout this section of the website, transference feelings, in general, should be discussed openly because emotional honesty is the core of deep psychotherapy. Just as emotional secrecy causes symptoms in the first place, emotional honesty, through speech and language, will lead to the cure of the symptoms.

Some forms of treatment, however—such as counseling and cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy—do not depend as much on the client-psychotherapist relationship as does deep psychodynamic psychotherapy. In these forms of treatment it may not be necessary to the success of the treatment to speak about transference feelings—and even if a client did try to speak about the transference, the counselor or psychotherapist might not know what to do about it anyway.

You mention that you are seeing a counselor and that you meet now every six to eight weeks. In this sort of treatment your solution to the transference—silent awareness—may be all that is necessary. In fact, the “broken” English of your writing (which I chose not to edit, except for length) reveals a charming optimism about life, and this attitude seems to be serving you very well.

So consider all that has happened. You went to treatment for marital problems, and you discovered a priceless treasure of empathy, kindness, and gentleness. You found just what is needed to make your marriage work. It wasn’t what you expected, but it was what you truly desired.


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