Posts tagged therapist

Relationship with Therapist

Question: “I have been in counseling for almost two years. My parents are divorced and my dad was out of the picture most of the time. I am divorced and remarried. I have had hardly no men role models in my life and have had a problem being shy or snotty around priesthood holders at church. My feelings for my counselor have been changing lately and I think about him a lot. Almost to much and i am wondering if I’m just obsessing about him because he is a positive male role model in my life or if its nothing. And should i continue to see him?”

Answer: Great to hear that you are working through some of the family of origin issues. Sounds like with your parents divorce and your subsequent divorce then remarriage that some counseling would help you ferret through your past and get a sense of what happened and how it impacted you. Most importantly though, how you can move forward with your life and remain happily married now. You mentioned that you become shy or snotty when around ecclesiastical leaders at church. I don’t have all the history but wonder if these men in authority or power are subconsciously seen by you as ones that may abandon or checkout on you? What does your husband think about the behaviors at church, has he seen them? How do you act around him, can you trust him? Do you find yourself snotty or shy around him? Answers to these questions will help you better delineate what and why you are acting in that manner around them at church. Now, with respect to the therapist you are seeing, I have few questions. How often are you in session? Weekly? Do you feel the relationship during session is healthy, meaning that you feel like the client and he is the therapist? You may be seeing him as more of a friend and be developing a new perception of your relationship to him, I am not fully sure.  Could you potentially be meeting your emotional needs that you did not have met by your father, now with this therapist? Might you be meeting these needs with the therapist as they are not met by your current husband? I realize I have posed lots of questions here, but I want you to think through them and the answers to them will help you figure out why you are thinking about him so much. You mentioned that “feelings for my counselor have been changing lately and I think about  him a lot.” What feelings changed? What were they before? When you do think about him what is it that you think about? Is it romantic, dreamy, or otherwise? If you are thinking or finding it difficult to not think in those terms I just listed it may be time to get another therapist. In order for him to help you, it is imperative that it be a client-therapist relationship. If you have in fact been seeing him for sessions for two years you may have developed consciously or not a relationship that is beginning to go beyond treatment and actually into a relationship itself. I’d recommend thinking through what I have written here and then if you will, bring the feelings you are having up with your therapist next time you meet. You and him can dialogue it and sift through what you are feeling then follow the course he directs you in. At times, clients can start seeing their therapists as best friends and the boundaries get diffuse and the therapeutic relationship becomes blurry. Let me know how it goes; post a comment to this thread after you talk with him.

Working with a Therapist – Boundaries

Question: “I was a foster child at an early age and was hurt by three separate families leaving me with no real parental figures ever. My therapist said that I had her unconditional love after one session. Is she allowed to say that? Is she crossing a line? Also last sessions she said that she was looking to give away some of her things from home that have been sitting in her drawer for a long time and she said she thought of me. So she ended up giving me some items. Again is she allowed to do that?”

Answer: I appreciate your writing in. I’d first say that you need to trust your intuition. It sounds like you have a mountain of hurt and have not had a really secure base to work with in light of your family of origin and the shifts in your living situations as a child. Also, your lack of adult caretakers and figures you could trust and bond with must have been really painful too as you learned to trust and connect with others. Glad to hear that you are reaching out for healing and wholeness.

Your question about your therapist telling you that she ‘loves you unconditionally’ is one I’d like to address here. The term unconditional love is one used in clinical circles and by laypersons alike. The term as used by your therapist was likely used inappropriately in that context in session. Within a fifty minute session, especially the first session, I doubt that the terms love and unconditional can be used regarding her relationship to you as you hardly know each other and those with healthy boundaries would not be making such claims without time and relationship building. That noted, I often do not talk in terms of ‘loving’ my clients but rather caring and supporting them in the therapeutic process.

Regarding the gifting … I’d say that you return the items to your therapist. She is a mental health professional and  appears well meaning. I feel that your taking gifts from her would impair her relationship with you, in that she may not see clinically clearly without bias or colored lenses due to the dynamic that is created by gifting you. The therapist-client relationship is a professional one, yet one of caring and concern. In the therapists kindness, she clearly was being led more from her heart than a code of ethics. Now, in the ethics code based on her professional organization, it likely does not say you cannot give gifts to clients, typically it is the other way around, they cannot get gifts from you. I suggest you meet with your therapist and talk about your concerns with her. Telling her about your discomfort with the gifts and that you were not sure what to make of her comment about her loving you unconditionally during the first session. If you are still not comfortable and unable to work it out or don’t want to, I’d recommend your finding another therapist to work with, as they are not all created equal.