Saturday, March 27, 2010

Just because I KNOW it is transference

Doesn't make it easier.

T and I have spent quite a bit of the last few sessions talking about "our" relationship. And how uncomfortable it is for me to tell her what she means to me. So I'm realizing that I am projecting feelings of wanting to be mothered or to have an intimate friend on her, and she, in her therapist way, is filling those roles. In a recent session, she mentioned that she "tells" me more about herself than other patients and she was wondering if I was interpreting that as "friendship" or as a sign that she likes me. And I had to admit Yes. I think that bothered her - she was using this disclosure (I think) as a way to build trust. Although I think I knew that on some level, I also thought we were just talking because we are (1) similar ages (2)both physicians (3) share similar humor. So it seems a bit forced now - where I analyze what she says to me and wonder how she processes what I say to her. We have a two week break and the week back will likely be a bit of "fluff" and then she is off for a week or two. So - it will take a while to get back into this discussion.

One book I've read on vacation is The Talking Cure. It is a quick read dealing with how psychotherapy alters the brain. I found it interesting to discover that this therapist seems to be constantly processing what the patient is saying with her own interpretations and then reprocessing in order to determine how much of her bias she is interjecting, before responding. Must be exhausting.


  1. I wonder why she would be bothered by the fact that you interpret her self disclosure as friendship. I don't find it surprising. Do you think it bothers her because she thinks of you in some ways as a friend and she is uncomfortable with that? Why does this get so complicated? Argh!

  2. I kind of wonder the same as Harriet.

    My t at first shared more of herself than she does now. But than again I used to ask her more questions about herself than I do now.

    In the process I found out that we had a lot in common. It helps me to have some common things to talk about when I can't talk about myself. And this is usually how I start the session in order to settle in the room so to speak.

    The hard part is that I have to remind myself that I am not special to her because of this exchange of information. Unlike your t, I'm pretty sure she would do this for any number of her clients.

    Anyways I'm sure working through those projections is a big part of therapy. As hard as it is.

  3. Obviously I can't speak for the therapist you are talking about OLJ, but the amount I self disclose to clients can vary quite considerably. Most often i woud not even ask my self the question as to why i disclose to one more than another.

    I think it is safe to say that I would have to like the client but other than that it just feels easier to tell some clients than others. I don't really ask why of myself.

    Most often the clients does want to hear a bit of the self disclosure but not if it takes up too much time.

    Regarding liking the client. Well a therapist will either like, dislike or be neutral to a client, they have to be one of those three. Disliked clients would tend to be few in number as they would tend to drift away naturally if not be directly referred.

    Longer term clients would in my circumstances be a person whom I like and have a sense of connection with, so it would almost be a given for a longer term clinet that I do personally like them.



  4. Harriet -
    of course, I would like to think she thinks of herself somewhat of a friend. :) You are right - it is complicated. This three week break from therapy has been tough - mainly because right now she is my only outlet for conversation about these issues (besides my blog friends and you all know that is huge :). My thoughts are constipated right now :)

    inamaze -
    I think we have similar situations with our therapists. When you say you sometimes start sessions with something you might share in common - you mean something not related to therapy? And the reminder that we are not special because of the exchange is a hard concept. I get the psych terms muddled - transference/projection/attachment - they all kind of mean the same thing to me.

    Tony - thanks for your response - it makes sense that in most cases, a longer term client is someone you "like" and vice versa. Although you do hear of people staying with a therapist that they don't like.

    Cheers to all -

  5. We talk about things we have in common such as dogs, hiking, etc. Kind of like two friends chatting even though it really isn't two friends chatting. It is really complicated and trying to figure it out sometimes makes my brain hurt, :)

    When I think about it I wonder if she shared some of these things with me because when I first started this therapeutic process I was extremely uncomfortable with it. As you have stated it helped build some trust as well as normalized it a bit for me.

  6. inamaze - I like your comment "it is really complicated and trying to figure it out sometimes makes my brain hurt"

    I am sure my T discloses some things to me to "normalize" the relationship - because she thinks I need it. It can be like a spiral though - I sometimes resent that she does it because it makes me feel "needy" - yet I want to know more.

    Yes - my brain does hurt!