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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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