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Question
Posted by: Q | 2010-06-14

love?

What is the difference between transfernece/counter-transference and love? I remember you had someone debate this with you. OK I get that you don''t know anything about the therapist from a bar of soap other than they''ve been paid to be nice to you. But what about the therapsit - surely they must know the client backwards therefore if they were to meet in everyday life and be involved in an intimate conversation, he may still be attracted to the patient?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Ouch, you are raising a very complex set of issues. And I have been scolded for suggesting that I'm not totally a believer in psychoanalysis as a remedy for psych problems.
I think you're thinking about a number of overlapping things. To over-simplify it all ( wnd why not ? everyone's doing it ! ) by transference people usually mean when a patient develops strong feelings for their therapist that arise out of transferring onto the therapist felings they had for someone else important in their t[life, like a parent. And Counter-transgerence usually means something similar in the other direction, where the therapist develops strong feelings for the patient.
The point is that these are feelings / emotions earned by other real relatonships, and not, as it appears, only by or even mainly by, things happening between the actual therapist and patient.
Therapists in their training need to learn about such possibilities so as to notice when they are occurring and handle them appropriately. Though they may feel similar, they are not "real" love of the sort that would arise in real life, but arise out of the peculiar and unique circumstances of the therapy situation.
because it would be so easy for a therapist to unscrupulously abuse such situations so as to manipulate the patient into, for instance, having an affair with him.
Therapies vary in how seriously they take these issues and how they deal with them. A very orthodox psychotherapist, for instance, would reveal very little about themselves - because you're there to learn about yourself, not the therapist. They may avoid having personal photos and similar items in their consulting rooms, and would prefer not to answer if you asked whether they were married or had children, etc. Some therapists wouldn't even greet you if they bumped into you in the supermarket, and most would avoid getting into a friendly pal-to-pal conversation.
Medical ethics is very clear about forbidding any sexual or strongly emotional relationship with a current or even a recent patient. So a therapist would try not to become "attracted" to a patient.
OK, some patients are more pleasant to work with, and some are grim to meet, but we try to keep our personal feelings out of it, because it is useful to neither of us to do otherwise.
I'm wndering what sort of situation spurred these concerns in you - no good therapist who met you outside of an appointment would have "an intimate conversation" with you, any more than a surgeon would meet you in the CNA and suggest you take your shirt off for him to examine your operaion scar. Its the wrong time and the wrong place for such interactions to be useful.
Does that clear up the mud at all ? If these questions arise out of a real situation between you and a therapis, do discuss it with the therapist - IN a session.

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Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010-06-14

Ouch, you are raising a very complex set of issues. And I have been scolded for suggesting that I'm not totally a believer in psychoanalysis as a remedy for psych problems.
I think you're thinking about a number of overlapping things. To over-simplify it all ( wnd why not ? everyone's doing it ! ) by transference people usually mean when a patient develops strong feelings for their therapist that arise out of transferring onto the therapist felings they had for someone else important in their t[life, like a parent. And Counter-transgerence usually means something similar in the other direction, where the therapist develops strong feelings for the patient.
The point is that these are feelings / emotions earned by other real relatonships, and not, as it appears, only by or even mainly by, things happening between the actual therapist and patient.
Therapists in their training need to learn about such possibilities so as to notice when they are occurring and handle them appropriately. Though they may feel similar, they are not "real" love of the sort that would arise in real life, but arise out of the peculiar and unique circumstances of the therapy situation.
because it would be so easy for a therapist to unscrupulously abuse such situations so as to manipulate the patient into, for instance, having an affair with him.
Therapies vary in how seriously they take these issues and how they deal with them. A very orthodox psychotherapist, for instance, would reveal very little about themselves - because you're there to learn about yourself, not the therapist. They may avoid having personal photos and similar items in their consulting rooms, and would prefer not to answer if you asked whether they were married or had children, etc. Some therapists wouldn't even greet you if they bumped into you in the supermarket, and most would avoid getting into a friendly pal-to-pal conversation.
Medical ethics is very clear about forbidding any sexual or strongly emotional relationship with a current or even a recent patient. So a therapist would try not to become "attracted" to a patient.
OK, some patients are more pleasant to work with, and some are grim to meet, but we try to keep our personal feelings out of it, because it is useful to neither of us to do otherwise.
I'm wndering what sort of situation spurred these concerns in you - no good therapist who met you outside of an appointment would have "an intimate conversation" with you, any more than a surgeon would meet you in the CNA and suggest you take your shirt off for him to examine your operaion scar. Its the wrong time and the wrong place for such interactions to be useful.
Does that clear up the mud at all ? If these questions arise out of a real situation between you and a therapis, do discuss it with the therapist - IN a session.

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