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I'm Attracted To My Therapist

Question:

Should a therapeutic relationship continue when both therapist and patient have realized that they are attracted to each other? The therapist has very firm boundaries and insists that if boundaries are respected on both sides that the relationship can still work. The therapeutic relationship is 2 years old and has been very successful thus far but not to the point yet where her issue has been worked through. The patient (female) admitted the attraction first and asked if it was mutual, the therapist (male) said no and then after about 6 months and very reluctantly, the therapist confessed it was mutual. Subsequently, the patient has developed very deep feelings for him and wants to pursue a physical relationship with him but he’s not willing. She’s torn, not wanting to start over with another therapist but finding it very difficult to get over the attraction. They have worked very hard together building a mutual trust and respect which has facilitated a lot of healing for the patient. I’m curious to know what you think the right thing to do would be.

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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

One of the right things to do is to avoid a physical relationship at all costs. There are all sorts of ethical and legal prohibitions against therapists entering in to intimate relationships with patients. There are solid and legitimate reasons for these prohibitions; many patients have been harmed and/or taken advantage of when they have engaged in relationships with their therapists. Even when it is unlikely that the patient would feel taken advantage of, it is still a very bad idea to act on a physical relationship with a therapist. The process of therapy involves a patient sharing secrets with a trusted therapist who devotes all his or her attention to the patient. This healing process gets completely undermined when the therapist turns into a friend or a lover. Friends and lovers share their problems – and it will not help the patient if s/he has to support the therapist (really!). It was probably a mistake for this therapist to have admitted his attraction. Nevertheless, I’m glad to see that he has taken a firm stand prohibiting any such relationship. My suspicion is that the patient (who I assume is you, the author) would be best off finding a new therapist, perhaps with the aid of the existing therapist. It is ethically acceptable but still quite frowned upon for a therapist and a former patient (former for not less than a full two years) to become romantically involved. Spend the two years working out problems with a different, but equally as good therapist, and do what you can to meet other interesting and attractive men. If you and your current therapist are still both single and willing after the years have passed (you and he are both single right?), you can see how your chemistry plays out at that time.

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Comments
  • Anonymous-1

    What if you don't need extensive therapy, but are trying to pinpoint certain areas that may be prohibiting you from further success in life?

    I have seen my therapist (who is getting a doctorate) for over a year. The first time I saw him my knees became weak. He is extremely handsome and (the word I am looking for) his presence engages the room. It was always hard to look him in the eye. I didn't have feelings for him because I was in a devoted relationship, but I felt something that I tried to ignore for so long. Later on, my relationship fell apart, and realized that a woman's need to be loved took over.

    I knew this and tried not to focus on the desire, but the feeling was (and is) so strong, that I feel I am forced to discontinue seeing my therapist. I am starting to have feelings that I never felt before. I don't see it as a normal case, but I wonder if I should relay my feelings to him or just try to ignore them.

    Lately, something has come over me. I can feel his gaze, and if I catch his eye, there is a strong passion that arises between us (in my judgement). Maybe I am seeing illusion, but it does feel different than a month or so ago. I so want to feel him in my arms.

    I know this may be wrong, but what if we could be soulmates? We are all, in fact, just human. Why does there have to be a boundry between two individuals?

    I feel, if it is meant to be, it will happen. It doesn't matter what your background is or who you deem nescessary to be with. I feel that it could happen anywhere, to anyone.

    I also want to note, that it is impossible to stop a feeling that is uncontrollable. Say, for instance, you drink coffee every morning and have done so for the past 20 yrs. Could you easily stop that? Love is a little different, but trying to stop an overwhelming emotion than a habit (in some ways) is much more difficult.

    I just wish I could either express my feelings or just deminish them. I can't seem to get rid of them, I guess my only alternative is to tell him. Maybe I should just discontinue my sessions.

    I literally am stuck!

  • Nicholas Leavitt

    I have noticed lately that I have been feeling very attracted to my therapist, if she wasn't my therapist I would consider myself in love with her. I don't know what to do either, this therapist has helped me more then anyone has in my life, she has helped me stay sober, I am an addict/alchaholic and she is a addiction Therapist.. I sense at times feeling like she might be attracted to me but I can't tell. I feel this melting feeling in my chest sometimes when I think about her and I have had dreams and fantasies about her. She sometimes emails me about appointments and other things and I talk with her about issues that are going on and sometimes I want to email her telling her how I feel, I wish I could let her know how I feel just so I can get if off my chest, I feel like if I could just let her know then I would be ok, I would feel better if I could tell her atleast that i think she is attractive, is it possible for me to tell her how I feel and still continue to see her as my therapist?

  • Tina

    I give the therapists alot of credit for addmitting he had mutal feelings for the patient,

    even though he told anne the truth, he still maintained safety for her, and it is all ''therapy'' anyway if you are in his office.

    providing both of you never touch. you can wait for him for two years, at the same time take care of the most importaint person....................... you!. best of Luck!

  • Anonymous-2

    I would suggest always tell him / her whatever you feel. And trust me after telling everything you will feel better. Whatever happens later if you can express yoursellf you will feel good.

  • Anonymous-3

    I completely agree with the comment above. I know there are ethics and boundaries and all of this involved but what if! What if this is the person you are meant to be with, why should you both deny that because of some rules that are good in most cases but may not apply in every case. Just an observation.

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