Transference

If you're just tuning in, we're in the middle of a sort of series of essays concerning how psychotherapy works. I started with an essay about the importance of the trusting relationship between therapist and client, and followed that up with a sort of overview of four different approaches to therapy technique; the psychodynamic approach, the cognitive-behavioral approach, the family systems approach and the humanistic approach. The plan is to write about each approach in more detail over the next four or so essays. Going in order of first appearance in the history of psychotherapy, we're due for an essay on psychodynamic psychotherapy, which is, more or less, the descendent of the form of therapy that Sigmund Freud created over a hundred years ago.

Transference

One of the most important concepts associated with the psychodynamic tradition is the idea of transference. Transference is a simple appearing idea that has to do with the way people understand one another and form relationships with one another. As its name suggests, it involves the idea of transferring something from one place to another. What is being transferred in this case is an understanding of a person. Where it is being transferred to is onto another person. When transference is occurring, basically what is happening is that we are trying to understand someone (usually someone we don't know very well) by making an assumption that they are similar to someone else, and will thus feel and behave in ways that are similar to how that other person would feel and behave.

Transference is a very fundamental process that human beings are constantly doing for better and for worse. Like most fundamental things we can't help but do, such as being hungry, communicating via body language even when we do not speak, or finding one's self sexually attracted or repulsed to another, it is not at all dangerous in moderation, but can create problems when done to excess. More to the point, the act of transference, like these other fundamental human processes, reveals and illuminates our motives and our thoughts; thoughts and motives that would otherwise remain hidden away from others and often even from ourselves (especially from ourselves Freud would say). Our acts of transference provide an information rich window into what we are desiring and what we wish to avoid. What we read into other people reveals our secret prejudices and our unfulfilled wishes. What is particularly wonderful about transference information is that it reveals or illuminates motives that people are often themselves unaware of having, or loath to fess up to. Part of Freud's genius was to recognize not only that transference was something that occurred on a regular basis, but also to realize that the information about personal motives that a person's transference activity revealed about him or her could be used as a therapeutic tool to promote self-understanding and healing.

Some therapists would disagree with the characterizations I'm about to make, but this is how I see it: transference is something that people do most all the time. It is itself an instance of a more fundamental and general process of perception that all people do which is to read patterns into things that aren't there in an effort to make sense out of incomplete data.

A Relationship Illusion

 Consider the following illustration which, for those of you listening to this via podcast consists of the following things. Three circles are arranged so that they are more or less equidistant. Each circle has a pie-shaped wedge cut out of it so that it looks like a pac-man, or a pie with a piece missing. These circles are oriented so that the missing wedges face each other. That is the visual description of what is in the image, but that is probably not the first thing you see when you look at the image. The first thing you are likely to see is a single triangle. There is no triangle really there, however. There are just three circles with wedges cut out of them. Your eyes see the circles with wedges too, but your brain interprets these three independent things into a single instance of a triangle; in doing so it adds things into the mix that aren't there so as to organize a familiar pattern.

How is it possible to have such a strong optical illusion of a triangle present in the image when there is no triangle there? Basically, what makes this possible is that people viewing the figure have a lot of prior experience with triangles, and "instinctively" or reflexively read the whole figure of the triangle into existence based on features of the image that suggest features of triangles we've known in the past. This processing occurs at an automatic, unconscious and non-verbal level of perception within the brain; you have no choice but to see the triangle, just as you have no choice not to understand the words on this page (or the sounds in your ear). Optical illusions of this type illustrate what the brain is, which is a sort of pattern matching and pattern generating machine. Brains basically find patterns in the world and when things aren't already in patterns we recognize, we try to fit patterns that are familiar with onto the data we have in an effort to make a familiar pattern appear. This automatic tendency is the basis of optical illusions, and it is also part of the basis of paranoia and a whole lot of interesting psychological phenomena, among them transference.

If seeing the triangle is an example of an optical illusion, transference is a kind of relationship illusion. It occurs easily and effortlessly when we first meet someone and try to form an understanding of who they are based on first impressions. It is an unconscious process, in that it occurs without effort, and does not announce itself. You only know it has happened when the person you thought you had a handle on goes and does something completely unexpected.

Relationship Schemas

It is not easy to get to know another person. When we first meet people what we appreciate about them is their surface. By surface I mean, our first impressions of who they are, and not just how they look (although that is clearly part of it). A person's depths – for example, how responsible they are, how they treat others, how they carry themselves when under stress – are not immediately visible or knowable. Deeper appreciations of a person's character are apparent only over time and repeated contacts and opportunities for observing what that person does. In effect we have to explore and witness each part of the people we form relationships with before we can accurately say that we know them well. Though it is undeniably true that trustworthy knowledge about relationships takes time and exploration to develop, it is also true that many people fail to understand this. Older people who have "been around the block" (e.g., who have been burned and hurt by relationship failures) understand, but young and inexperienced people never do, and people in love especially never do.

The reason why it is difficult to get to know someone quickly exposes a deep fact about the limits of human knowledge which is that all human knowledge is fundamentally indirect, based on potentially faulty perception processes, and subject to error. We interpret the world through the lens of our senses; we can't appreciate it directly. I take this position to be a fundamental truth about the nature of reality. However, people who believe in direct and literal revelation (such as revelation from God) will necessarily see this issue differently, at least as concerns knowledge about God. 

Though we cannot know things directly (at least with regard to other people), we can group together things that seem to belong together so as to form a sort of knowledge cluster, or mental map, or (as psychologists call it) a "schema". Once schemas have formed to organize knowledge about a thing inside someone's mind, those schemas are used as an aide in understanding and interpreting new information that concerns the things each schema is about. Think of schemas as a sort of reference book that sensory input can be compared against. The brain looks for a match between appearances out in the world (the way someone looks, acts, etc.) , and what is know about the world in the form of schemas. The brain does this because if a match can be found between something new and something old, then all of the stored knowledge inside the schema can be applied to the new situation without having to figure it all out again and again.

Let's make this all more concrete by giving an example. Suppose you get into a fight with someone you know who has a crew cut and you end up coming to blows. You learn about those blows from the evidence of your senses – you ache, you are bruised and you feel pain! You learn that this person is likely to be violent, and this knowledge about crew cut-guy's violence potential gets stored in a schema that represents and organizes your knowledge about this person. A week goes by, and there you are minding your own business when you happen to glance up and see a crew cut. Your immediate reaction is to get ready for a fight. This sense of urgency goes away quickly, however, when you realize that this new person is not the person you fought with but rather someone else. In this manner, knowledge taken from your senses is compared against your existing relationship schemas to aid you in quickly appreciating whether you are in danger or not. It's a good thing you have these relationship schemas to organize your knowledge and trigger an alarm, because otherwise you might have again walked into a punch!

People (by definition) form schemas about all manner of things they know something about, including themselves (which you've heard of before, labeled as the 'self-concept'), other people they know, and how they get along with those people they know. It is exactly these schemas concerning relationships that get transferred from one person onto another in the process of transference. You see that crew cut, and brace for a beating (or get ready to give one). It's a different person this time wearing that crew cut, but they were initially close enough in appearance for you to mistake one for the other and treat the new person as though he was the old person.

It's not just crew cuts that can lead us to confuse one person for another, and it's not just violence that we can respond to. Transference is far more general than this simple example. It's transference, for example, when you see someone who reminds you of a former lover you no longer see and you get sad for a moment. It's transference when you fall in love at first sight, because something about that person leads you to believe they are your soul mate. It's transference when the porn star dresses up as a French maid, or wears pigtails to suggest youth and innocence. It's transference when you assume that a doctor is competent because she wears a white coat and carries a stethoscope, when the banker's pin-striped suit leads you to infer wealth and stability, and when the neighbors appear to be richer than they really are because they have a (leased) BMW. It's a form of transference when a woman who was abused by her father, goes and gets involved romantically with a partner who also abuses her. It's also transference when a confidence man (or woman) leads you to trust him or her and then steals your money, or when a politician leads you to believe that he or she will act one way, causing you to vote for him or her, and then proceeds to act another way you didn't expect. We respond to characteristics that aren't really there, and what is more remarkable is we don't tend to notice that we've done it; we do it automatically and without thinking. The illusion is so seamless it appears to have been out there in the world such that anyone else looking would see the same thing. That's not the case, however. Transference is really an interpretation and an illusion that is generated inside the brain as the brain tries to organize the world.

As was the case with the triangle illusion, we try to make sense out of the things we are confronted with by matching their appearance to things we've known before. We organize things we see so that they fit the things we already know and we fill in the blanks that aren't there with the rest of the pattern we know from our schemas. We can set ourselves up for problems when we do this, for instance by extending trust or intimacy (sexual or otherwise) to people who haven't earned it. In this way, we end up harming ourselves some of the time by failing to appreciate dangers that are really present. The positive flip side of this equation is that we can also learn to benefit from transference by learning to accurately recognize novel situations as dangerous because they remind us of past dangers.

Transference As A Therapy Tool

Though transference happens automatically and unconsciously, it is possible to learn to become aware of transference Becoming aware of one's transferences is a good thing, because it can help you to become a more conscious and proactive person, more in command of your own destiny, rather than a passive, reactive person. Proactive aware people are better able than passive reactive people to influence their lives for the better, and to learn from mistakes so as to not repeat them again and again. They tend to have a better quality of life than passive reactive persons.

There are many ways to become more aware of your own transferences. One way is to write journal or blog entries about what is happening in your life and then to read them over looking for patterns that you have that get you into trouble; areas where your judgment is repeatedly poor and you make the same mistakes over and over (as chronicled some time ago in that bestseller book "Women who love too much"). Another way is to hire a therapist who can help you to become aware of what your transference are. The psychoanalytically oriented school of therapy was the first to identify how becoming aware of transference could serve as a tool for personal growth, and they are still the best trained professionals for helping to accomplish this goal.

If I ask you, "what does therapy look like" and you had never had therapy before, you are likely to describe something like this image: "The therapist is a man with a beard who sits taking notes while the patient lays down on a couch. Neither patient or therapist look at each other. The patient drones on". This is the classical image of psychoanalysis – quite out of date of course, but still useful for illustration purposes. Did you ever wonder why the therapist and the patient aren't looking at each other? The reason is that this "no eye contact" arrangement was thought by early therapists to best promote the patient forming a transference relationship with the therapist. The therapist minimizes eye contact, and says nothing about himself and his life outside the therapy room so as to become a blank slate or canvas or screen onto which the patient can project his or her transferences, and the therapist can view these transferences happening, figure out what they are, and help the patient to become aware of what they're doing. In theory, the patient's behavior will change as he or she becomes more aware of what he or she is doing. In practice, such insight is often not enough to motivate real change in the patient's life. It is helpful, but something more is often needed to get the patient to actually behave differently then they have been. The map is not the territory, but some patients and some therapists can mistake the one for the other.

What does this transference-encouraging look like in practice? I'll give you an example from my own life. While on internship early in my career, I had to participate in my own therapy as a client. I had been reprimanded by a supervisor for being late to a meeting before this therapy process started and was feeling kinda paranoid about being judged unfairly. Very shortly after I started in with my therapist, I found myself feeling that he was judging me too and found myself getting pissed at him. I'm sure he would have picked up on this in short order, but I beat him to it in this instance, telling him, "This therapy relationship is going to work out fine - I hate you already".

I had the advantage of being educated about transference before the above exchange took place, so my ability to be self-aware about it shouldn't be taken as the norm. My anger towards my therapist, however, was classic transference. Another typical scenario is for a patient to develop a crush on a therapist or to feel ownership of the therapist's time (feeling jealous when the therapist is unavailable), or to respond to the therapist as though the therapist was acting like a parent used to act (judgmental, for example, or overly permissive, and getting upset or sensitive when opportunities for slights or limit setting occur.

The aware therapist recognizes over-reactions for transference (generally a safe assumption, but not one to be just assumed), and interprets these back to the patient, " I don't think you are a bad person – but you seem to think that is what I think of you. Am I perhaps reminding you of past relationships you've been in where you have felt similarly treated?" The occurence of transference then becomes an opportunity for growth of the patient's self awareness. If you can recognize the patterns you are succeptable to falling into, you aren't as much at their mercy anymore.

Counter-Transference

It's not just patients who are vulnerable to transference Therapists routinely (if grudgingly) also form transferences with their patients. This is called counter-transference when this happens, to indicate that it is the therapist's rather than the patient's issue and responsibility. A typical counter-transference might occur when a therapist starts feeling angry with a patient who describes doing something that is similar to something that previously harmed (or would harm) the therapist or someone the therapist cares about. A therapist I'm friendly with recently described a situation where a patient was talking about feeling good about not being expected by his elderly parent to take care of that parent. The parent in this case preferred the patient's brother to provide care, and the patient enjoyed the freedom of being the 'less responsible child'. The therapist found herself suddenly angry with her patient because she was herself a 'responsible child' with an irresponsible brother and she felt herself to be unfairly burdened with elder care responsibilities. It wasn't exactly fair for her to get pissed at her patient, and she didn't show it or let the anger feeling interfere with her duties, but she did feel it, and it was there because of counter-transference

Experienced and ethical therapists notice when they are forming counter-transferences and handle them appropriately. This means that they take steps to deal with their own issues so that they do not impose on their work. If they cannot manage their reaction on their own, they seek out their own therapy or supervision situation where they can get help in dealing with it. If they cannot deal with it, they must then stop working with the triggering patient if feasible and possible, recommending another comparable therapist who will not be so affected whenever that is possible. Therapists should strive to never abandon patients, but this doesn't mean that sometimes everyone isn't better off with a therapist recusing him or herself from working with a particular patient.

Recognizing counter-transference is as hard as recognizing transference, which is to say, very hard, and even good therapists may take a little while to figure out what is happening. It is ultimately the therapist's responsibility to figure it out, however.

Conclusion

So that brings us to the end of this essay on transference Transference is a truly amazing process, casting light as it does on hidden thoughts, feelings, wishes and motivations that would otherwise remain hidden and troubling. Freud's recognition and characterization of transference was brilliant in of itself (although I believe there were writers who recognized the phenomena before he did), but the thing that moves his contribution over the top to genius status was his recognition that transference could be used as a therapy tool. The psychoanalytic therapy he pioneered featured analysis of transference as a central element, and generations of psychoanalytically oriented therapists since his time have continued to recognize the importance and centrality of transference to the work of therapy. Awareness of transference is no cure-all. It is really best suited for problems that are relational in nature (such as anger or depression problems – where transference leads patients towards inappropriate and exaggerated moods and actions). It is not particularly helpful if you are working with a patient who is dealing with a primarily biological problem like schizophrenia or autism, for example. Nevertheless, it is a useful and brilliant tool and technique for most all therapists to know about and use appropriately to the benefit of patients. It is a major contribution of the psychodynamic approach to the universe of psychotherapy techniques.

Comments
  • christopher sweeny

    i have read the work and while i was doing a care course at the college i found that this article helped very much for me and many other students in my class we used your work and we found it very interesting i hope that this is kept up and if you insert any more new information on to this web site i would love to recieve an email from you so that i can come on line thank you for the information.

  • Eduardo Nicholai

    I think you should be more careful with your statements. Two simple examples: 1) About the woman therapist who was the responsible child with a brother who was irresponsible and didn't want to take care of his parents. You say definitively that while she indeed felt anger towards her patient, she did not let her "counter-transference" spill over into this relationship. Being more careful, I think it likely best had you said, "She strived her utmost to avoid letting her feeling of counter-transference impede her counselor-patient relationship." 2) About the circles versus the triangles. You say there "is no triangle" and that there are only "circles with wedges cut from them." The pseudo-circles are no more true circles than the pseudo-triangle is a triangle. I learned from a brilliant poetry professor that when analyzing a poem, ALL MEANINGS must be considered as part of the true meaning of the poem, and of all the possible meanings, the analyzer cannot interject his/her subjective judgement by choosing only one or a few of all the possible meanings. In your picture, there was also a perfect rectangle that encased three imperfect circles and one imperfect triangle, as well, each wedge missing from each circle can be considered its own triangle by mentally joining the three points. In psychotherapy it should be considered EXTREMELY important to consider all possible causes for a psychological outcome. If only one of the many possibilities is chosen it could be wrong or more likely could be an incomplete assessment, leaving the patient frustrated when after repairing the issue successfully the problem still exists. A practitioner does not want to create a false hope for his/her patients. EN.

  • Anonymous-1

    our daughter-in-law does this regularly she listen to what others say orillness they have and is positive that her spouse and or children are suffering from the same thing she runs from doctor to doctor telling them to test the child or spouse and it is always negative. This is becoming an issue in the treatment of my sons bipolar illnes she is alienating the therapists

  • Ronald

    Eduardo, if your comments and ideas were put in place, they would only distract the reader. The ultimate points of the subject would not be made clearly. It seems to me you want to be recognized as an intellectual, you may be. Please consider who the audience might be.

  • CO

    My mother in law has come to stay for a few months and has been bewildering and confusing me as she is acting as though I'm an evil stepmother. She apologises and seeks approval constantly. She is in her 70s and had a very bad relationship while living with her own mother in law. This article explains a lot to me and gives me a way to guide our relationship into a more loving and peaceful one. Aha! Thank you.

  • Gunther Hermann

    The whole idea of transference seems beside the point. Why is the argument based on the fact that a person can only know another under moments of stress or through his capacity to handle his responsibilities? The concept of analysis is supposed to rest on the different ways the patient escapes common realtiy sa as to form his own, so why can't we consider a hazardous meet of realities as a deep connection other than through the situations you give as examples?

  • Anonymous-2

    I have a huge crush on my doctor, but I don't think it is transference. He is young and cute and seems to like me too. (but, unfortunatly is married). How can I ever know for sure if it is transference or not?

  • katelyna

    After reading your article that I have just experienced transference for the first time in my six years of therapy. I'm embarrassed, humiliated, and afraid to continue in therapy. How do I go back to my therapist after I've told that I wants to be his "favorite" AND how I would like to make love to him. As I was leaving his office I glanced back and saw him smile, and drop his head. What's with that? Was it that funny?

    Dr. Dombeck Responds: It wasn't a funny thing, so much as a classic thing, and a flattering thing. However, your therapists reaction isn't where the action lies. Read the full comment I've made in my Ask Dr. Dombeck column.

  • l ann

    yup, there is nothing new under the sun. This concept is not one that I have heard but describes my latest relationship perfectly. How do you do it? Seems like my study of Frued and other therapist did not get this point to me..Or is it just this time in my life?

  • Shelby

    This was excellent material. Many educators do not cover transference thoroughly, yet it seems crucial for those being conferred to practice psychotherapy. If you covered it in college, have an indepth understanding of it, and may have experienced it, you also know - everything in life, essentially, is a transference.

  • khalid hamraoui

    there no logic

  • Anonymous-3

    I was in therapy for 2 years. After the 1st year I realized I was experiencing extreme transference. I thought if I was aware of it, it would go away. I ended up discontinuing therapy. Now I think I need therapy to get over my feelings for my therapist. It's been 6 months and I still think of him all the time. I know my feelings are not based on reality, but that knowledge doesn't diminish them. I find the whole thing rather embarassing. I've been married for 22 years and feel guilty that I have these feelings. I know that I'm just another patient to my therapist, no one special. I'm a resonably intelligent person, why can't I get over this?

  • Anonymous-4

    I'm somewhat confused about the concept of transference and how it attempts to distinguish between appropriate, or prudent and inappropriate, or heightened reactions to experience. As a crude example, take the instance of a person being mugged for the second time. If the person is outraged at his second attacker, is this transferrence of the person's outrage at the first attacker, or merely an appropriate primary feeling as a result of his physical injury and pecuniary or other loss? Is it only transferrence in the case of inaccurate or inappropriate perception based upon prior experience? Please explain. Thank you.

    Editor's Note: Excellent question. By strict psychoanalytic criteria, I've probably been way too wide in my definition of Transferance. To the analyst (so far as I know), Transferance only occurs when a past relationship memory is inappropriately and inflexibly applied to a current relationship. So in the case of your mugger situation, that would probably not be considered Transference in the strict sense. We should also consider that in the case of the victim mugged for the second time, there is reason to be outraged for the second time (e.g., being upset when mugged is always appropriate, no matter how many times that may happen). If a person was mugged in the past and then responded angrily to someone in the present who was not a mugger, that might indeed be Transference in action.

  • Joan M.

    I enjoyed your Transference-Countertransference essay. For about two years I was just afraid of my therapist. I had been physically and emotionally abused by men but I chose a male therapist because I thought that would be best for me. I now see that my fear stemmed from my past experiences with men and the fact that my therapist was about 6'6" tall. A lot of man sitting in front of me every week! Anyway, eventually my fear of him waned, I began to trust him more and I opened up to him. Somewhere along the line, I began to consider him my combat buddy. I loved him like my combat buddy and felt like I could count on him when I was under assault in the emotional foxhole.

  • Nik

    I don't completely agree that every situation when a patient is attracted to his or her therapist is a transference reaction. The first visit to my therapist I was absolutely attracted to her from the moment I saw her. She was the perfect image of want I wanted in looks and personality of a woman. I know I didn't know her, but it would have been the same if she was a stranger on the street. Now 7 months into therapy I still feel the same way as I did the first day I met her. Yes the feelings are stronger, but if she wasn't my therapist I would feel the same way about her.

  • Rochelle Smith

    I had developed very strong feelings for my ex-psychiatrist. I don't know how to let go. I am at the point, I don't trust psychiatry, yet I need a psychiatrists' help to deal with my feelings. I have been battling this for the past year and am now on the wait list which is 16 months to see a psychologist. 16 months is a long time. I have been emailing him, I feel a "connection" to him. I don't know how to heal, I need help. Any advise email me. Rochelle

  • Marie

    I found this article to be very good. I have been with my therapist for several months. I never had even heard of transference before. I've been to therapists off and on through the years but never finished with them because I either didn't like them or felt I wasn't progressing.

    I suffer from depression/ADD. Long story short, I am very attached to my therapist and worry constantly about what he thinks of me. I hate it. I feel out of control, sorry I got therapy in the first place and want this to stop.

    He and I have discussed it and he says it isn't about him. I get that much. My marriage is improving slowly and he still thinks it is linked to the issues we are having. I say, not it isn't, it goes deeper.

    I wonder can we resolve transference with the therapist it is aimed at? I'd like to quit going but I have a feeling this solves nothing?

    Editor's Note: The core idea behind interpersonal/object-relations style psychodynamic therapies is that transferences of one sort or another will occur in the context of therapy, and that the therapy is a good place to work these transferences out. Working out a transference doesn't mean that it goes away entirely. It means that you become aware of it and can inspect it from the outside, rather than being helplessly embedded inside it with no other available point of view. From your outside perspective, you can start to see how the transference relationship is similar to earlier relationships, and you also gain access to the ability to do something different to override the tranference and form alternative, more creative and hopefully healthier ways of relating. If you are dependent in the context of the transference relationship, you begin to see that you don't need to be this way, and you become freer to explore alternative (more assertive) modes of relating, for example.

  • Tim

    Hello, and thank you for the essay I enjoyed it very much, because I struggle with sex addiction and am having alot of trouble just excepting my relationship with my therapist as a professional. I feel like he love's me and im only rejected if I confront him if I dont I feel like he wants me. I want so much to work this out with him and stop telling him im quiting and then go back, ive done this in my personal relationships as well im no longer blinded by my addiction thanks to the help I received from my therpist, sometimes it's painful to change I no longer want to act out with strangers I want a monogums relationship. And I wanna stop running thanks tim

  • rosie

    I have a crush on one of the facilitators of a therapy group I attend. He only facilitates the group once per week (it's a 3x weekly group), and we've never had an individual therapy session. But, he has a great sense of humor and wonderful smile ... and I have such a crush on him! Is this transference, or just a normal crush? And once I stop attending the group, would it be ok to ask him out for coffee? As I mentioned, he's not my individual therapist. Thanks!

  • Clara

    I am a trainee and my patient is experiencing transference. or should I rather say, he is feeling comfortable about me. Clearly, if we work with clients who open up to us about intimate issues, and us on the other hand being trained to give clients support, which is positive, don't clients just confuse the feeling of 'someone cares about me' with falling in love? I feel confused about transference...I am more into CBT, I don't know much about classical psychoanalysis which transference stems from. What I would like to explore with my client is him feeling comfortable with me, and confusing me providing him support in therapy with 'she would be the nice woman to date' - what has got this to do with transference? Please help.

  • kris

    i have struggled with transferance in my course for week ......hearing your essay made it clear in plain english to me ....ty

  • sarah

    thank you soooooo much. i am writing an essay on transference for my msc in mental health and i was really struggling - until read this - now i get it!! why cant all the books just say it like you in 'normal' language!!!

  • Athena

    I must admit that I am currently in therapy and have crossed the boundraies that I knew not to cross. I too have been aware that trnsference usually occurs. I thought that I could handle it and remove it like I have done with so many other thoughts and feelings. But I couldn't. Instead I was looking in the phone book for an exfriends address and cameupon my therapists. I am not if that was intentional or not. But the next step that I did was. I drove down his street and seen his house. I have told on myself and awaite his reaction to this. I have been trying to back out of therapy for some time now and I know that I was using this information as an exit tool. I am very angry at myself for going that far and to actually... Anyway I thought that perhaps you or you students may benefit from my mistake and perhaps can help your patients from doing the same thing I did.

    Athena

  • solea

    I think the context speaks to the reason it is called transference or not. My therapist and I got very attached to each other. We both said positive things to each other. I kept going back because she felt like a friend, and I was wanting an reciprocal relationship with her. Had we met under different circumstances we would have been best friends.. but because I came to know her through therapy it gets labeled Transference and counter transference.  The rules of therapy say you cannot have a relationship outside of the therapy. So I stopped seeing her as a therapist. What I believe to be an otherwise good relationship ruined due to therapy rules.  What a waste. It has been 18 months since I saw her as a therapist. I ran into her at a workshop and she smiled and waved at me and I could not talk to her. It felt like I was breaking all the rules if I did. I did leave her a message wishing her well on her exams when a mutual friend mentioned that she was going through that process. Out side of that I have not contacted her. Perhaps this is all my illusion and I am sick. All I know is that making something which is normal sick...labels me as sick. In that way Therapy has been exceedingly unhealthy because I cannot trust what I feel anymore. I always think that it is something wrong....  I aways think that its an illusion.  I seek my own company exclusively more and more....

  • Anonymous-5

    Having studied counselling and the effects of transference, yes it does occur more regularly than one may think. At the moment I am in counselling and have feelings for my therapist, which swing between hate and love. today I hate him, last week I loved him. I am very aware, so is he.Because he is empathic, I sometimes feel he loves me,wants me.I have to try and detatch myself from those feelings,focusing on my problems and how my therapist helps.Detatchment is the only way, not from my therapist, but the feelings I have for him. A big thank you to him. Debs

  • Anonymous-6

    I have been undergoing cbt for 6 months. At first i did not even like my therapist but gradually got to like her more and more. Now i have very strong feelings for her, not sure what they are. i dont think it is a physical attraction it is more like an emotional attraction, but i think about her all the time. i have told her about this and she tells me it is transference but doesnt seem to know how to help me with this. I probably would have finished my therapy by now as cbt is only short term but because of what has happened i am still going. Every time i go my therapist says she thinks it would help to reduce contact and see a different therapist. She has sought supervision about this issue and i am wondering if she has experienced any countertransference. I would like to know what you think about this. Also how can i get to the point where i can stop going to therapy without thinking that my world will end if i can never see my therapist again. I have been married to a wonderful man for 24 years and have told him all about it but he is struggling to understand. lease help

  • Anonymous-7

    i would like to say that things like that happen a lot. But, you have to be carful with your fellings.

  • Cara Putnam

    When I was reading your explanation of the mugger I could not help but think of Post Traumantic Stress Disorder. Could a portion of what happens to a person with PTSD be related to transference?

    Cara

  • Rc

    I survived a stoke this past November, I was under the care of a young Speech pathologist half my age.During my sessions she would asure me that we were in"this togther, I wasn't alone in my recovery. She made me fel safe and not alone.I began to trust her and rely on her,After my discharge from the hospital I contacted herby email.She initilly resistd corresponding with me because she was no longer my therapist and it wouldn't look good the two of us coresponding.I found out from one of her coleague's that she had begu having gfelings for me during therapy.We developed an on line emotional Affair that turned out to be one of the most futile and frustrating "relationships " I've ever participated in.

    I'm currently in therapy to undo the problems created by this affair.I don't think my therapistunderstod transference as discussed here. I feel terrible for contacting her and seducing her into an affair.Andit's beoming more and more difficult to keep her identity hidden in my therapy sessions I don't want her to lose her license over me.

    BIG MISTAKE!.

  • Sonic

    Due to my work load and clients I come across I found this essay to be very helpful. As a youth I experienced some negatives in my life and at times when I met the youth I now work with and hear their stories it brings up some things in my past. I am learning to put them aside but am now clear that transference was a part of my confusion and disallusion that I was supposed to help my clients not fix my own issues. Good explainations on the subject

  • Dana Venzor

    Thanks for your essay

    Very well done and very helpful in helping me understand what it is I am currently experiencing

    Again a thousand thanks I will be well with the aide of the knowledge I found here

  • LAF

    Thank you for your essay regarding transference. I have been to many therapists in my twenties and early thirties and could never find one that seemed to help or maybe it was I who was not ready? Um, honestly, probably both those statements are true. Anyway, I started to see a therapist when my teenage son was having alot of trouble as well as my marriage was falling apart, it has been many years since then and I would see him on and off during this time. Recently I starting noticing that I was becoming more and more attracted to him, yes he has helped me through alot of difficult things, wouldnt it be normal to like him??? He is also VERY handsome AND SEXY, I have tried to ignore that part of it but I cant anymore, and I am beside myself now because at our last session I finally admitted it, although I really do believe he knew this had been happening for awhile and kind of pulled it out of me, is he doing this to me on purpose???? I am embarrased and afraid to be humiliated by this, it almost feels like a cruel sick joke to play on a person..does he like me? doesnt he??????? Im fairly attractive and nice, etc....isnt it normal???.....I can understand the how this is "supposed" to help but I have yet to come accross any comments telling me that it has!!!! Where do I find the information letting me know that working this out will help me become healthier, etc...... I think Id rather just have crazy sex with him and move on to a new therapist!!! Maybe it would be better to see an unattractive or opposite sex therapist to work out some of my "issues". This feels bad, scary and I have a feeling if I were able to express my feelings for him and if he were able to have feelings for me things would feel a heck of a lot better!!!! Unless of course I am to believe he really has NO feelings for me, and in that case, even more depressed then before!! Wow, pretty funny stuff, huh? Typical comment as expected I assume......but seriously, can anyone, from a PATIENTS point of view let me know that this has worked out for them. Thank you very much..................L

  • cathy

    Dear Mark,

    I am but a green horn and have just begun Post.Grad studies in Counseling.I have to say that I enjoyed your writing style and most importantly, the meaning of it all. Many articles are often filled with jargon that one needs therapy for after reading... I found your article most understanding- thank you for imparting your insight and knowledge.

    Sincerely, Cathy. Melbourne,Australia.

  • Anonymous-8

    I have an undergraduate degree in psychology. I have been aware of the concept of transference for many years. Until now I have never experienced it, at least in this way. Recently I began to see a physical therapist for a lower back problem I am having. At our first meeting I realized I was very physically attracted to him. I thought nothing of it really, just "how cool", my new pt is so cute! I have been seeing him now for several weeks, two to three visits per week. Yes, I am still very much attracted to him, but worse I now feel a strong emotionally attachement. I've begun to fantize that he has feelings for me too. I know, at least I think I know that is is just transferene. He is a comforting/supportive strong male figure (my father was not) and he fills some void in my emotional life. But is that all it is> When you say transference can be difficult to recognize you aren't kidding. Seperating feelings of transference from true feelings is nearly impossible. They seem inextricably linked. I guess I'm glad I can step back and view this from the outside, although that isn't easy either.

  • Anonymous-8

    Hi LAF-

    I read your comments and understand completely the feels you express. I'm going thru a similar thing right now, not with a traditional therapist per say but with my physical therapist. This isn't a situation where he his is trying to draw these feelings out of me the way our author suggests that some therapists do in order to "help us" understand ourselves somehow. I agree with you. To me this feels completely normal and natural. Isn't it the basis of all attraction to a degree anyway?

    Anyway, my question to you is this. How did your therapist react to your expression of your feelings? I'm so curious. Of course the reason I want to know is I am thinking to telling my therapist as well. My guess is that It won't go well though. I think I will feel like you, embarrassed. The other thing for me that makes it a weird is that my therapist is half my age! God I've never felt so old and undesireable before. If were to say something to him and he rejected me Im not sure I would recover from that. I guess that is what's stopping me anyway.

    H

  • Burnt Umber

    After years of various types of therapy, not a single therapist knew how to deal with my transference issues- even when I could pointedly and with a clear head discuss the transference.

    The conclusion I've made is that the vast majority of professionals don't understand how to handle, don't prioritize, or/and can't recognize most instances of transference in the patient. The results are a slew of therapy patients left emotionally debilitated, staggering through their days with intensely painful feelings, on their own- which is perpetuated by ongoing therapy sessions that fail miserably to address the issue of transference. My last stint in CBT for an anxiety disorder left me severely suicidal in my feelings of abandonment, all due directly to mishandled transference with the phsychologist. Properly managed, the outcome could have been completely different and even healing.

    What helps when you feel intense attachment to your therapist who can't or won't work towards addressing the transference? End therapy and give it time. Lots of time. Just like the saying goes, time heals all wounds. It took me 18 months to finally feel relieved of my transference feelings of my last therapist. Even so, I still have residual feelings of transference for every therapist I've had, going back 24 years. But the intense feelings do fade with time. I won't make the mistake of entering therapy with a professional who doesn't subcribe to transference therapy ever again. I advise the same for other patients.

  • Lee

    In the past I have had several long term therapy situations that I have terminated because I felt that the therapist just didnt know me, they only saw the nice me on the outside and didnt know the horrible me inside. I was telling them things to get them to approve of me, so no wonder they didnt know me. I am seeing a therapist now who I have opened up with in a totally different way, this one always challenged my need for outside approval and I beleive that this negated the transference problems I had always encounterd previously. Now I understand

  • s m 2009

    Nothing new but really i have the same feeling toward my Therapist 1 year now - i declared to him me feeling and advised him that i will not visist his clinic any more - 3 months and could not ,felt with more depression and returned back , he explained to me that it is transference and this is normal , but i feel that my emotion is increasing and like him personally not cause the situation, the problem that whenever i feel hard time and try to email him or call him to take his advise he dont reply to me, so i had the feeling that he wants to tell me that your limit is only inside clinic and not out side, he is very nice with me so far, but really dont know what to do, i cannot continue my life with this strong feeling toward him which is affecting his way for acting with me and cannot leave the clinic and go to to her doctor? what to do?

  • s m 2009

    please amend last sentence to read to go to other doctor

  • Nelly

    My father, the parent I most loved and identified with died when i was 7. I didn't see him or attend his funeral, I was not 'shown' how to grieve. My mother was a very driven business woman and a workaholic. I learned early to keep out of her way to avoid her sharp tongue. My older half brother came to live with us when i was 8, he was a delinquent alcoholic. My mother became ill with cancer and died when I was 22. This left me with a whole host of confused feelings which of course I stuffed down with the rest of my issues and 'got on' with my life. I then became deeply involved with a spiritual organisation for 5 years and led an austere life of abstinence. I left the organisation aged 28 to lead a 'normal' life.

    As I grew older I realised that my life was always 'rupturing', I suffered long bouts of depression and always chose partners who were emotionally unavailable and brought me back to the familiar childhood feelings of worthlessness & unimportance. Thankfully, I did manage to have two wonderful daughters, which made me even more determined to get over my issues. The relationship with their father was a disaster and I have had two relationships since - both disasters too! The most recently ended relationship was with a man who turned out to meet all the criteria for AvPd. I figured it was time I faced my demons once and for all or these patterns of mine will never change.

    I have had several courses of CBT based therapy in the past, i have also done some schema therapy and more recently attended 7 sessions of bereavement counselling. I've read every self-help book relevant to me and also done my best to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. I practice mindfulness meditation. I work incredibly hard just to keep my head above water and I just feel sure that life isn't meant to be this difficult all the time. Just recently I found a Jungian Analyst and I was thrilled to at last be able to get some 'real' therapy.

    I really liked the therapist in our consultation meeting and I laid out the issues I wanted to address and made it clear I was sick of my maladaptive behaviours and wanted to change them.

    We had our first session last week and it was awful - for the first 2 minutes she just stared at me not saying anything and it became clear to me that she wasn't going to, it made me very uncomfortable and angry that she wasn't guiding me, I started babbling because of the discomfort. I seemed to fall into an abyss of worthlessness. She picked me up on a point wrongly and I corrected her in a round about way - she asked me why I hadn't been more direct with her, was this to do with my people pleasing? Right then and there from nowhere i was the teenage me and the therapist was my mother, i was sobbing uncontrollably and just wanted to get out of the room, i'm crying now thinking about it. I could not stop crying for almost 2 days and its taken 4 days for me to stabilise into some kind of normality again. I was overwhelmed by the amount of shame, self-disgust and worthlessness I am holding inside - worse this part of my psyche has been pulling the strings all my life.

    Is transference of this degree normal? Is it possible the therapist thought I was up to it and challenged me by triggering my abandonment issues in the first 2 minutes? Perhaps she was trying to get me to state my needs openly and clearly to her and ask for the guidance I wanted from her. I have no idea but she terrified me. She said something like there was only one mind in the room not two.

    My plan is to go to our session this week and tell her honestly how I felt, I just hope I can do that without bursting into tears. I know I have to get in touch with this part of myself in order to 'rewire' it but I just didn't feel I was in a safe or protected environment as she reminded me of my mother so much. Also the depth of worthlessness I felt for days afterwards was terrifying. I'm so frustrated and feeling I will never 'get over' myself or worse haven't got the gumption required to do it.

    Thanks lor listening, apols for the long post

  • Daria

    Find another therapist preferably male if you have mother issues lkike I do. I did it and it is an amazing difference. Only now I am realizing how much I was projecting my mother traits into my former female therapist. Now the therapy work is acctually working and I am making great proggress week after week. There is plenty of great therapists out there don't get stuck with the one that doesn't fit you. Good uck!

  • Ujjwal

    very nice article.... Thank you very much...!!

  • Gaby

    My therapist terminated after 4 years suddenly on the phone in the middle of a conversation. I am still devastated. She encouraged a dependency telling me she had thought about ways to incorporate me into her life...and that it would be lovely to have dinner at a local restaurant if the situation were different.

    But...After termination I asked her for my file and she went to the police and gave many fraudulent statements that she and I had discussed. She also encouraged her associates to lie and say i called them to ask about her....We ended up in court and I have a restraining order against me.

    I did not have the money for a lawyer and she knew that ....

    She was the only person in my life who i thought cared...I lost all of my family....anyway..i feel so betrayed....and scared.

  • Simple Simon

    1. Your essays are terrific! Easy to read, jargon free and REALLY helpful.

    2. After reading the essay on transference and the community's responses, especially Alice H's, I feel more in control of my feelings. I understand them better.

    3. Question: Being only human, after all, does it give the therapist a kick to see a client succumb to transference? Honestly? Picture an intelligent, attractive :-) younger woman and an older male therapist... I guess the answer is that he knows it's not real, and that I'm not unique he's seen it before.

    But he did look like a satisfied cat...damn!

  • Jean

    Enjoyed your article helped explain transference and contertransference easily

  • Erik

    Help,

    I have been seeing my therapist for a short time, and have been developing tranceference issuse with her. I have been educating my self on the issue and I belive that the infactuation is there. I am married and still love my wife, however our communication skills were lacking but improveing sience therapy. I know I dont "love" my theapist the same way i love my wife, it is deffanatly lustfull. Do I confront the issue with my therapist ? I understand its a natural feeling, but that dose not make it go away. Please help. Thank you.

  • T.

    I have Been in therapy with a caring, kind,fun man. I understood that my love for him was real, at the same time, I was frustrated by all the transference rule's and regulation's but I respected them to keep the therapy in tact. Now that my therapy has ended with this Loving man, I pray that we meet again.He helped me too understand that I was a good person, and deserved Love. To anyone who has issue's and wants to leave therapy because of transference, please don't leave, you will most benefit if you work through it and feel the feelings, it will feel uncomfortable for a while, but at the same time your therapist does care and want to help you, but remember, truely caring for someone doe's not include sex. so when therapy is finished, you will walk away knowing that "you was cared for in a loving way"by a loving person, and inturn you will better Love and care for yourself. and take what you've leaned in therapy to a new relationship or the one you are presently in. Good Luck

  • Anonymous-9

    I used to see a therapist many years ago for depression, however I developed Trasnference toward her, and started having fantasies about her being my Mom. I choose to discontinue our sessions, but it's been almost thirteen years since I've seen her and still I think about her every day.. What should I do?

  • Jill Geary

    I admitted to my therapist 2 weeks ago that I thought I had feelings for him, but at the same time I told him I understood it was transference. At this weeks session this is all he wanted to talk about, which was really making me angry, as he is now taping our sessions. But after reading this article I can see why he wouldn't let this drop. So my faith in him has been restored.

  • tobeornottobe

    I have been in therapy for about 6 months, and as i have learned from your article why I am having these feelings about my therapist, I think I am much worse because of them. I think about him constantly,not in a romantic way, but like a close friend or brother typel. I think about him holding me if I were to cry in his presence, and things like that. I want his affection so very much, it consumes my every moment. I suppose it is because he is the only man who has ever treated me nice and with respect. I always wonder what he is doing between appts. so, how do I take this and learn and heal from it??????

  • Anonymous-10

    I am experiencing intense needs for my male therapist to be the father I never had as a little girl. The feelings can be intensely sexual and frightening because I am married 18 years to someone who truly adores me. Yet through this transference, I have access to great loss from long ago, and it may be the only way to heal it.

  • melissa sunderland

    hi. thankyou for your article.I have found it very informative and it addresses a part of what i feel. the problem is i swing from understanding the dynamics of transferance to feeling completly in love with my therapist( we are both lesbians). i have put alot of energy into overcoming these feeling but find the feeling intensifying more. we have spoken openly about it but with no real resolution, so after 18 months i am thinking maybe i need to leave this therapist so that my heart may heal. all i feel at the moment is increbible pain and longing for more. she has not once encouraged these feeling and has been VERY professional. two choices i feel i have: stay and just feel the pain of " loving her" or leave the therapy and try to get over her. i thought this would disapear with time but it has only increased. i am really desperate for constructive help on this matter away from her. whenever i think of stopping therapy i just feel like i will really regret it and call her again. will someone please help me.

  • Jeyaraj Veluswamy

    Hi, it is one of the few lucidly written articles on Transference i could not take off my eyes till i finished the whole article. i am so happy to discover your other articles...a bank of priceless wealth for those who, like me , are in the work of helping people understand themselves.

    Million thanks..

    jey

    Kolkata

    India

  • Anonymous-11

    Regarding your "pac man" picture:

    I can see the three "pac man" characters.

    I can see the white triangle.

    I can also see an arrow that points upward--an arrow you apparently can't see.

    Am I delusional? schizophrenic? bipolar?

    Are there wires crossed in my brain?

    You assume that the figures in an ambiguous figure are two dimensional. That they oscillate like a strobe light.

    In PowerPoint or Word, the viewer sees pictures and words as though there were one flat surface. Actually, the pictures and words that look like they are in one dimension inhabit a multitude of dimensions. |||||| vs |_| |_|

    1. The "triangle" is real--it is not an illusion. It exists in a different dimension. It is a vision of God.

    2. Schizophrenia is NOT a brain disorder. The schizophrenic has a gift of vision, but cannot handle the gift. The schizophrenic is actually far ahead of the therapist.

    3. No neurologist will ever cure her patient.

    Every neurologist overlooks depth theology.

    "The heart has its reasons which the reason cannot know."

    --Pascal as quoted in A Wrinkle in Time.

  • Lee Warren

    I read your essay on Transference with great interest. I am a student of hypno-psychotherapy with the NCHP in the UK. It was very informative. Thanks for taking the time with this. I have found it a very useful insight to one of the key aspects of Freud's work.

    Thanks. I look forward to reading more.

  • Anonymous-12

    You did a great job explaining transference and counter transference. I read other definitions about it on the internet but was having a hard time understanding the concept. I read your page here and wanted you to know you explained it very well. Thank you.

  • Anonymous-13

    i thought i suffered from transference... but after reading this article... i'm convinced it's not relevant to me. i am extremely attached. i have an attachment issue with my counsellor. i don't see her as my mum or sister or anyone...

  • mark

    I would like to thank you for your essay on transference. I recently read the essay to assist me with transference & countertransference as a therapist myself. Today I experienced a very intense session. One so intense with transference/counter transference, I find it very risky and frightening to allow myself to be vulnerable with colleagues. I do have some, they were just not available. Thank you for the indirect confirmation and affirmation I’m not crazy, not weird, just human with good awareness!

    Mark

  • Vanilla312

    if it's done incorrectly. I had an inadequate psychothearpist encourage erotic transferrence and then ask me repetively what I thought of him. He never showed any emotion with me or talked me out of anything traumatic that happened to me. He wound up diagnosing me with 5 disorders I don't have. I got a second opinion from someone who has been practicing 25 years.

    I told this horrible man I liked him romantically and he just looked at me. And changed the topic. I think transferrence can be mishandled to an extreme and should be only encouraged by very experienced clinicians. I think clients should be informed about how they are feeling. This triggered a major depressive episode... and I am a person with a job and very real life concerns.

  • Minggy

    I am just 18. (I am from Hong Kong so I hope my English is understandable) At secondary school( form1-6), I used to be quite depressed. At form 5, my teacher found out about my problem. We initated an informal "therapy session" once a week. Then I began to have those gross dreams of him kissing me and I couldnt stop thinking of him. I wondered if I loved him and form 6 was horrible because it scared me like hell to see him at school. I stopped going to the sessions and syopped looking at him and talking to him for a year. Yet I dont think he knows what is happening and he never asks. It hurts me a lot to think he has abondoned me. Now after graduation I am still loving him. what should I do? I read some comments which say the transference can last for years. I decide against breaking the truth to him as this will end our friendship forever, even though the friendship doesnt exist anyway. should I find another professional therapist for help. or should I wait and see if I will fall in love with some guys in university, given the condition that I have never dated and that fxxking hurting feeling for him, will I be able to love again in life?

  • Tina

    I have feelings for my therapist. I am transgender, ftm, and she is exactly what I feel like I would want in a woman. I had to write a letter to her and bring it to a session for her to read. We basically came to the conclusion that if it is ever hindering my therapy that we figure out what to do about it. It was ok, it scared me and I cried, but it was ok. However, my feelings are stronger now, not sure what I am gonna do.

  • Chris

    I appreciate your statements. I am both a therapy student and a current client. From the point of view of the patient, transferrance is incredibly painful. I have a wonderful and ethical therapist, but I feel like I'm being played sometimes. I think he truly emapthizes with my issues and may even like me as a person, but that just makes my attachment to him hurt more. At least when one is not chosed by the person he or she admires, the door can be closed and the contact severed, but I have to face the man I "love" who doesn't return my feelings three times a week. I want to walk away, but "not seeing" him at all feels like a death. I'd like to see more on this topic.

  • Terri

    I want to thank you for sharing your expertise and knowledge on the subject of transference. ALl we want to know is who we are and how to understand and deal with ourselves. This article has shed some light on me and I want to thank you again. I actually stumbeled on to this by read the Road less traveled and I am glad I did.

    As we know life continues to be a learning curve and process each and every day of our lives.

  • Anonymous-14

    As a patient, this is the best explanation of transference & counter-transference that I've been reading about since 4 years. It's a pitty that I am in a country that I have to resolve this issue myself, as psychologists here, especially young ones, haven't heard about it, which makes their patients a rich field to be experimented on!!

  • Laura

    This is a really great article and explains a lot. Although I am an engieering student, i have very strong transference feelings with a tutor of mine so i decided to start self-teaching a bit of psychology (helps to keep my mind off things too) but I'm struggling to come to terms with things a little. I'm also finding it very hard to overcome these feelings. I've heard that awareness is key to healing, along with spending time with that person but next year, i am not going to be taught by my tutor, meaning the healing process will be affected :(

  • Anonymous-15

    My father died when I was 6 and was my keystone in personality and physical appearence in the family. I never trusted any man enough to marry until I was 38 although an accomplished professional and attractive. My husband (who was fun but use me to supprt him through a long diabetes related illness) died and I met someone 15 years older on the internet. He is kind and very sexually attentive and I have in my mind the transference you speak of when we are togather...the sexual undercurrent in the safety structure is amazing. I am 57..It was a long journey but now I know what may give me the illusion of completeness to be happy.

  • Susan

    I was seeing a female therapist- she was a lesbian and about 10 years younger then I. My marriage had failed due to my husband coming out if the closet. And while I am heterosexual- I found myself feeling that if I could be in a relationship with this therapist my life would be good again, I had brought up my feelings and discussed the transferance with her repeatedly- she kept giving me things to read but never would discuss that dynamic. One day- I was due at her home office for a lunch time appointment. She knew I could not answer my cell phone during work hours. I was driving and picking up my messages, And She told me she wasn't going to see me anymore. That she could recommend other therapist for me. And she wished me well. I went to her office and she had left the premises so not to see me. It was one of the most devastating acts of my life. I had real issues of emotional abandonment as a child, And also had 1 hospitalization for Suicidal Ideations. I had a good therapist who helped me get past most if the hurt -but I will never forget her