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Can A Psychologist Tell His Patient That He Is Attracted To Her?

Question:

Can a psychologist tell his patient that he is attracted to his patient even when the psychologist knows the patient is very attracted to him?

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Answer:

This is a complex issue that is much discussed within therapy circles.  The generally accepted answer, which is also considered to be the ethically proper way to handle these situations, is for the therapist to not admit to any feelings of attraction, and most definitely not to ever, under any circumstances act on such feelings. At the very least, a therapist should not dwell on any discussion of her own attraction, and refocus the patient towards exploring his own motives.  

Patients are not in therapy to socialize with their therapist (at least hopefully).  They are there to do therapy work, which means focusing on their inner emotional experience.  For a therapist to admit to attraction causes the focus of the patient’s experience to shift into a social mode where the patient is fantasizing about the two as a romantic pair.  Better for the therapist to acknowledge the attraction if the patient wants to talk about it, and gently refocus the patient towards exploring where that attraction is coming from and why it is happening now.  That makes for a far better and far more therapeutic discussion for the patient as it helps the patient to become more aware of the motives behind their desires. 

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    This is such a hard question. Therapy is such an intimate relationship that it is easy for a client to be attracted to a therapist and vice versa. Attraction then can get in the way of therapeutic work, especially if not addressed. The client may still fantasize about the therapist and the therapist may also fantasize about the client. The sexual tension in the room can make any therapeutic work impossible.

  • christine

    Very difficult, maybe my situation is slightly different, I am a patient with a Psychiatrist and now also a psychologist for CBT. It has all been a bit over whelming, however I am so much better I cant believe it. I have worked in hospital with my Psychiatrist in the past for years, socialized etc. My attraction to him is quite intense. The signs from him I have observed, indicate he feels the same. We continue appropriate behaviour (well I do ) because I care about him for what he has done for me, saved my life. After therapy, I am not sure, I want to do the correct thing. I dont see anything wrong with him touching my arm, comforting me, it helps then to get on with thing. Christine

  • Anonymous-2

    Hi, I have been having some counselling sessions with a chartered psycologist how best to help my daughter whom has a disability. I am beginning to develop feelings for him , that I am doing my best to hide. I am pretty sure that he is attracted to me , but has definatley not made this manifest in any way other than the obvious ways that you can tell. I feel very confused and vulnerable, as I have shared so much personal information about myself and now feel very open and exposed, not to mention down hearted and silly for feeling the way I do about him. This is totally out of character for me, as am usually a strong person, but am unsure of how to conduct myself. Do I cancel any futher sessions ,which would probably not benefit my daughter, as futher help and continued work with her is sceduled in a few weeks or do I carry on? Any advice would genuinely be welcomed as I feel so miserable.

  • Atom

    I also see a psychologist for my medical conditions, and I am attracted to her as a person and I enjoy my sessions. But I am attracted to many women, so for me it's not a big deal. I know nothing will ever come from it nor will it every lead to anywhere. It is not if you are attracted to someone it is if you act on your attraction. I am seeing her for a service she is providing, that is the main focus of and she does a great job. I think my attractive might be because of the comfort zone she put's me in and raises my confidence, as a person. Basically she is doing her job. However I can open up to her because I know that she is a true professionalist. I hate when experts think they know everything yet as humans we only use 10% of our brains and everyone is an expert!

  • SM

    I've had a bit of a crush on my therapist for awhile now. But in the last few weeks, it has grown. I think about what it would be like to be with him sexually.

    Although I KNOW THAT THIS CAN NEVER, EVER HAPPEN, I find myself still thinking about him. I find him intellectually and yes, physically attractive. I've also noticed him looking me over and staring at my body when our sessions end. I find myself thinking about kissing him. It is a turn-on to think about it. But as I said, I know that nothing can ever, ever happen between us.

    I am so grateful to everything he's done for me. I came to him suicidal and depressed and two years later, I am happy and healthy. He's helped me that much. I would never "try" anything with him, and he's too much of a professional to ever "try" anything with me.

    But I am helplessly attracted to him. It's actually kind of fun to think about.

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