Not Another Therapist Crush

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Dear Dr Darcy,

I know this is a relatively common theme, but ...

I have feelings for my female therapist, whom I've been seeing relatively regularly for about 2 years now. I'm not "in love" with her, but I absolutely adore her. She is a role model for me, too. I really like her personality, her values and her as a whole person (or I guess the person she presents as during the therapy sessions). The attraction is not sexual (though I have had some sexual fantasies about her) but rather more on a deep emotional level. I wasn't initially attracted to her; it evolved over time and If I ever meet somebody like her, I'd marry the woman!

As I have studied and briefly worked in a similar field, I'm well aware of all the boundaries and transference issues and would not even dream about crossing these. She is straight; I've come out to her as gay. She is a very ethical and experienced professional who would never do anything inappropriate; all boundaries have always been strictly maintained.

I've done some research - so, it's recommended to let one's therapist know. I'd like to, but just cant tell her that issue - been struggling to do so for a bit. Also, it feels so inappropriate for me to do so, given I've worked in similar field. I feel very embarrassed, guilty, ashamed and stupid, not to mention there are real issues to discuss.

I've tried (again) to sum up the courage last session to tell her, but just couldn't do it. I think it doesn't interfere with our work, though I could be wrong. I did take a break from therapy with her and missed her; time out didn't seem to help.

Thank you very much in advance for your help.

ANSWER

I have a few thoughts. First (and maybe I’m reading your question wrong), it doesn’t sound to me like you have the type of feelings that we generally think of as romantic or erotic transference. It sounds like you admire your therapist and are inspired by her to find quality people like her in your personal life. That’s ideal. What every therapist hopes to achieve is to model for clients what an ‘ideal’ relationship would look like so that our clients can eventually replicate that relationship in their personal lives.  What you’re describing here sounds like you’ve both done exactly that. So check NO for romantic-transference / erotic-transference.

Second, it doesn’t sound to me like the relationship you have with your therapist / the feelings you have for your therapist are causing you problems in your life – again, unless I’m reading this wrong. It sounds to me like you’re judging your feelings and it’s your judgments which are causing you to feel embarrassed, guilty, ashamed, and stupid. If I’m right, there’s no need to discuss this with her. It’s a client’s prerogative to decide what they’d like to discuss in therapy (again, unless it’s causing you distress, in which case I’d encourage you to bring it to session).

Bottom line: I think you’re fine. I don’t think there’s too much here to drill down on. If you really want a growth challenge, I’d say look for other examples in your life where your judgment of your feelings results in you feeling embarrassed, guilty, ashamed, and stupid, and share those examples with the shrink. It will be the equivalent of sharing this scenario with her, minus the secondary shame.

Writer’s stats: Female, Lesbian