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Hello group. I have posted previously about my intense transference with my marriage counselor and you all have been so supportive. Thank you!

My wife and I have an appointement on Mon. w/ our marriage counselor. I still have not expressed my feelings and don't plan on doing so anytime soon. I have become so heart broken over this. I feel like I can not love my wife as long as I have such intense feelings for somebody else. I have also lost a grip on the dividing line between fantasy and reality. I used to know that I had no future with my T. Now I want to convince her to leave her happy marriage and risk the job she loves to be with me. I know this is not possible. But the thought of her not in my life is too painful.

I can't stand this amount of hurt. But I also do NOT want to let go of my transference feelings for my T. I'm in a really bad place right now.
I have seen a T individually. I've only been once, just a few weeks ago. I think I'll make another appointment with him as soon as I can. Although, during the session I found him hard to connect with. He made good points but took a very long time to make them. He wants me to concentrate on giving my wife more attention. Which I have been doing. Maybe it's time for a follow up. Thanks so much June.
The answer is yes, but I do not have time to elaborate as I am up against a really tight deadline at work. But if you look for threads I started in Stories and Personal Accounts About Therapy you can get a pretty good account of what it was like right through the end. (translation: I run on at that mouth. Big Grin).

I know it's not everyone's experience, but my talking to my T about my attraction to him was actually the key that opened our work together, which went so well that I made the decision to stop going to therapy. But I know how scary it can be! Sorry this is so brief!

Hi, SBR (can I shorten? Big Grin ) I just wanted to say hi, because I'm dealing with intense transference with my T for a couple of years now, and we are just now moving into marriage counseling- now adding my husband to the mix. It's really agony, isn't it. I'm sorry you are in so much pain, but it does no make you wrong or bad, it's a normal reaction to feeling understood and accepted by your therapist. If we are in a problematic marriage (which I assume like myself you must be or your wouldn't be getting marriage counseling... Smiler good for you-) then it makes the reaction and pain that you feel much worse, in my opinion. My personal belief is that if your therapist is a good one who understands transference issues and works within that framework, and also has good enough boundaries (will not use you to gratify her needs in any way, but will keep the relationship professional, which will be *very* painful for you to endure) then you could ask for an individual session with her, and tell her of your struggles. Doing this would probably be the most difficult thing you have ever done... I'm sure you know all the reasons/and risks involved in such a confession of love. However- I want to comment on one thing:

I have become so heart broken over this. I feel like I can not love my wife as long as I have such intense feelings for somebody else. I have also lost a grip on the dividing line between fantasy and reality. I used to know that I had no future with my T. Now I want to convince her to leave her happy marriage and risk the job she loves to be with me. I know this is not possible. But the thought of her not in my life is too painful.

Having these feelings does not mean neccessarily that you do not love your wife. It is just an agonizing thing that must be dealt with or you will potentially not get anywhere in therapy. As people on here like to say, there is no way through this trial of fire but straight through- does it feel like you can't go back? Then plow straight through, and endure the pain as best you can. My therapist knows about my feelings for him. My husband does too, although to protect my h's feelings I havn't revealed the more romantic side of it, and have just told him that it feels like I want my T to "be my father," that I get angry and can't trust him, that I alternately love him, and that the feelings are extremely painful and confusing in dealing with. You probably have some idea that your feelings are related back to your childhood, old pain, and possibly your current needs that are not getting met in your marriage. And you will feel very attached to your T because she is providing you with some of those unmet needs. It's like falling in love, or a deep but unrequited love- a most painful thing, but worse somehow in terms of how it feels in therapy. You are not alone- it is heartbreaking, literally. Try to allow all your feelings around your T, and not reject them as "bad." Try to find a way to tell your T, and ask her for advice on if you should tell your wife. It is clear that you want to be able love your wife, from your posts, and that shows what a good man you are! So do not worry or be afraid, what you are experiencing is quite normal, albeit extremely painful.
I hope some if this can help- it's a bit all over the place. Please feel free to ask any questions...I'm not around much, these days, but I will check back in a few days, if not later today.

In the meantime- peace to you,


Ps- This link may help you- it did me when I was at the stage you are at- if not just disregard it:


Oh I forgot to add, that the only thing I personally disagree with in this articles, is that the feelings aren't real. I think the feelings are real, because I personally believe that receiving (vulnerable/painful) love is real and powerful- and that in itself has been painful for me- in realizing that my receiving or vulnerable love for my T is not always completely accepted or valued as love. Still one I need to work out somehow with my own T, but that's a pretty deep place, I don't know... Eeker
Hello, new here myself. And like so many others, I ended up finding this site while reading up on transference. I apologize in advance for the length--I like to write, but obviously struggle with editing. Wink

I'm 30 and in therapy after a very traumatic year related to my husband being diagnosed with a sleep condition (details aren't PG). I have limited prior experience with therapy, including a few weeks at 10-years-old for nightmares and some family sessions in middle school. Hubby and I are both seeing the same T (a clinical psychologist and MFC who incorporates a spiritual dynamic), but individually, and for mostly unrelated problems, other than his condition being the initial trigger. I know that can sometimes be problematic, but hubby has been seeing him for about a year and I have been for about five months and it has been a positive experience so far, especially helping T understand me better through the lens of the partner I choose to be with.

My background, which I've spent years saying "so what?" about rather than deal with, is a lot of paternal neglect, I guess. I pretty much never had a connection with my mom, due to several factors: post-partum depression when I was a baby; her breakdown when I was a young child when my older sisters were abused by her boyfriend (which I guess I witnessed, but have no memory of) and moving to their Dad's; a series of unstable relationships; working her butt off as a single mom; and general instability. I think there was more than a decade of my childhood during which our only physical contact was me getting in between her fights with my older sister or her boyfriend. She was emotionally abusive, physically attacked those who fought back, would kick her children (including me) and boyfriends out of the house regularly for minor arguments and had her older children (again including me) practically raise the younger ones, who are 10, 11 and 16-years younger than me. Anyway, blah blah, big deal. Again, so what? It's how I grew up, it seems normal to me and I am able to invent all sorts of excuses for her behavior that make me able to have a relationship with her today. This information is just to avoid the suggestion that I see a female therapist, because I am conscious of pretty negative transference toward most women in authority and can't get past step one unless they are "attached" to a male I trust (like talking to my pastor and his wife at the same time).

In the case of my Dad, due to my Mom's instability, he was in and out of the house until I was eight and then out for good. He was never affectionate, but was very engaged (playing sports, video games, helping with homework), and then remarried and I was told my step-mom was "done raising her children" and he mostly checked out of my life and into hers, which continues to this day. I don't think I really recognized my relationship with either parent as that strange until having my daughter (2.5-years-old) allowed me to experience the other side of parental affection.

T knows all of this information through our conversations and me sharing extensive journaling (about 100 pages, single spaced since I started counseling). Anyway, since middle school, I have struggled with transference...and unfortunately was usually conscious of it. I tend to look for supportive, older males to fulfill a fatherly role. However, shame about being needy/dependent (probably defending against abandonment) and guilt over replacing my parents instead of being willing to confront/risk trusting them again usually keeps me from indulging in building trusting relationships with others when this paternal dynamic is present. The exception would be allowing a mentoring relationship (as I have had with a few teachers). I basically feel like I am "cheating on" my parents (and my husband, God) for seeking out other people to depend on.

The result is usually I starve the neglected/needy part of me into submission by not allowing it to connect with anyone (T has noticed I easily dissociate this part and also anger), otherwise I can't stand myself. However, my T is very good at building trust/safety with me, so that didn't work this time. My instinctual reaction to building a deep trust with him so quickly was emotional self-abuse, which grew into some pretty scary self-destructive inclinations (been there before during two previous extended depressive periods in high school and at Stanford, but this was the worst). I think I'm starting to come through it now, thank God!

I'm assuming my T must know I'm struggling with transference with him, because I have discussed my abandonment issues, fears of rejection, irrational projections of judgment openly with him. I have also shared journal entries that specifically relate my desire to punish myself or quit counseling, because building this level of trust in a relationship that will eventually disappear (because it is of a professional and not personal nature) is scary as... I'm trying to move beyond that fear and trust that when the time comes, I may be sad to lose it, but I won't "need" it anymore.

What I don't understand is T sometimes acts very fatherly toward me and I'm not sure if it is conscious (on purpose for some reason) or counter-transference. For example, he has called me, "Kiddo" several times, which is a nickname my Dad called me and I used with my younger siblings. When I informed him, he initially apologized, but I told him it wasn't that I minded, but thought he should be aware of it. He has used it at least five times since then and has toned down modes of questioning that I reported reminded me of never feeling like I could get the "right" answer with my I assume it is on purpose, but I'm not sure exactly what that purpose would be. He says when I allow my emotional side to emerge (usually intellectualize as I'm doing now), it seems almost teenage. Maybe he is trying to "parent" me through that state? I don't know.

I am planning to bring up the topic openly with him next session, because the last few sessions my fear of going any deeper only to eventually lose that connection has kept me barely able to talk. As in, I retreat inside my head, only somewhat aware of what T is saying, and start sketching rather than noting our conversation or my thoughts. I could just journal it and email him as usual, but I feel it's important to push through and actually talk about it, intimidating as it is. I'm afraid even writing all this down here has turned it into an intellectual thing. I'm still incapable of "feeling" in front of him and not sure I will ever be able to. I pretty much only do so with my husband, because I only feel safe enough to do when I have physical contact (a hug, a hand on my shoulder, etc.) to ground me. While I feel I "need" that grounding, I also feel awkward and guilty thinking of anyone else doing so. I'm not sure what his policy is on that stuff as I've only ever shook his hand and had him tap me to get my attention when I was listening to music and didn't hear him approach. Anyway, that's mostly unrelated.

Basically, I'm looking for advice on the best way to approach the conversation on whether this paternal dynamic is conscious (for a purpose), unconscious because he has kids around my age or just in my head. I have no reason to believe he'll be anything but kind and supportive, because he's dealt well with all sorts of irrationality so far. But it's still scary to have the conversation. Also, how to be emotionally present in counseling and stop "blanking." It can get kind of expensive to show up and say almost nothing of substance.
Hi Blackbird,

Thank you for all the support. Today has been the roughest day so far. I had to leave work because I couldn't keep it together. I have definately bottomed out. I don't have anymore appointments set up with my T but once one is setup, I will be spilling everything. I can't just keep living like this.

I have been seeing a different T about it, and yes, it IS out of avoidance.

I'm really scared that I won't make it through this pain or that my marriage won't survive. My stability is the glue of the marriage. For the past 3 months I have put on an Oscar winning performance but as of this week, I can no longer act like I'm on top of the world when I have never been so hurt in my life.

Thank you again.
I've been reading a bit more on here since I posted earlier and am amazed to find so much of what I experience to be common. It's nice to hear from other people who are baffled by this sense of neediness toward their Ts. I am really blessed that mine is so patient with me. At one moment, I'm practically begging him to respond (he encourages/allows me check in via text to monitor) and the next I'm instructing him to ignore me out of the shame of "needing" him, sending me into a self-abuse cycle. I have admitted horrible projections, which can border on paranoia, of how he might hate/judge me, how I feel like I can hear a far off sigh when he receives my texts or even that is going behind my back to the few others I am close to. I'll feel completely liberated by being able to trust him so well to admit these things, then panic about his inevitable disappearance and close off or ask about quitting.

He is so patient and reassuring about my irrationality and always encouraging me to expose the lies I believe about dependence/needing I use to never need anyone enough to be betrayed or hurt. The best I have been able to explain it to him so far is to tell him that he makes me feel very safe...and to me that safety itself feels UNsafe and makes me panic. My biggest fear right now is that I will bring the transference issue to his attention and it will either disgust him or he will realize he's done it unintentionally and have to "fix" it. It's probably ridiculous to worry that a T who has been practicing for over 20 years and who is privy to my past, and my current fears of losing counseling has NOT figured out the transference connection that is occurring (and how I act out to fight it).

I am fine with him utilizing my transference to get at the issues beneath if he consciously intended to allow this parental dynamic. However, if unintended, I worry I am draining, manipulating or otherwise taking advantage of him (yes, boundary issues are common in my family). I feel personally responsible for his choice to interact with me--does anyone else feel they must have mind control powers or else no one would give them the time of day? Basically, I feel like I need his explicit permission to be OK with my feelings of wanting/needing to be nurtured and cared for by other people, and specifically him. It just seems so counter-intuitive that someone would allow me to burden them in that way (he says not a burden, but we all KNOW better, don't we?). Wink

I go back and forth between being so afraid he'll reject me and almost willing him to do it, so I can at least see where he draws the line (and then safely avoid it thereafter). I keep asking T to give me rules or structure, because I have this insane idea that if I can just have enough information to accurately predict everyone's expectations and boundaries, I can somehow meet them all and never be abandoned or disappoint anyone. And I have been just successful enough at it in my life to believe such an equation for safety might actually exist.

Yet, knowing all this about myself and where it comes from, I still can't assimilate that knowledge and process it on a deep enough level to even begin to work through it. I think I'm starting to realize we're talking years of work ahead. Somehow I imagined that a conceptual understanding was enough to help me knock it out in a matter of months. Confused
Hi Yak and welcome to the Boards. I'm glad you are finding validation and explanation here. I know you will also find support.

I am exhausted and need to get some sleep but I wanted to welcome you and to just say that you sound very much like a classical case of "disorganized attachment". Do you know anything about attachment theory? When you say that you want to be with your T but you also want to run away from him that tips me off.

I may be off base and I apologize if I am but I would take a guess that your caregivers in childhood were erratic, undependable and more importantly alternately scary TO you and seemingly scared OF you and in taking care of your needs. There may be any and all kinds of abuse and trauma in your background. Perhaps you had to learn to parent yourself or your siblings and even your parents. You did not get your needs met as a child and felt very alone. Maybe you used dissociation to cope with situations that were too frightening for a child to handle.

I have a disorganized attachment and a trauma background and much of your posts resonated with me.

Again, I apologize if I am wrong and off base.

BTW, what kind of therapist is your T? Does he do CBT, psychodynamic, relational, etc.

Look forward to getting to know you.

True North
hi, Yak- nice to see you- I hope you are cool if I just respond to SBR from before... Big Grin We kinda cross-posted-


I just want to say, that if you have to leave work because you are hurting so bad over your T (and trust me, I have been and am often, there), then it seems like things really are getting to a point where you need to talk, and badly. And if the stability of your marriage feels like it is all on your shoulders, that is doubly hard, a burden very difficult to your wife depressed? I just ask because I am in a marriage where, I am able to cognitively recognize the great difficulty my husband has because I am depressive, but I am emotionally unable to do a thing about it! He has no idea of how badly I feel for him deep down inside, or how much I long for him to be able to connect with me, and to help me, as I deeply long to be able to help and connect with him! It is awful. I just wonder if your situation is similar...I know my h feels like he is carrying the marriage- he thinks I do not care about him at all, and I know this...and I think he does not care about me. and he is convinced that he is the glue that holds it all together. But I feel like I am dying without his emotional support and I don't know how to ask him for what I need from him...which is basically compassion and tenderness, and forgiveness for my deep failings, especially in the area of physical love. I'll bet your wife feels the same. I guess I have tried to give him what I needed, and he has tried to give me what he needed! And it didn't work. I wonder if what you get from your T is what you really need to learn to ask for, in some way, from your wife? and give your wife what you would like to give your T? Maybe. Might be a simplistic answer...?? but maybe. If not, just disregard! Big Grin My T and I work with this kind of thought...maybe yours is different, and that is ok too. I hope the T you are consult with is helping with your situation, which sounds so awfully painful.

Thanks for all the warm welcomes. First off, yakusoku is a Japanese word (I got my BA in Japanese) and it means promise...just a tidbit for you all. To answer a few comments/questions:

Monte - my T also sits about five feet away (well, I am now comfortable enough that sitting in the closest possible location leaves me four or five feet away) with a coffee table in between. I'm a married woman and he's a married man and we're both Christian, so I wouldn't want him to do anything that made him uncomfortable...but I'm not sure I'll be able to relax enough to show my vulnerability without at least proximity. He's read as much in my journal, but he's also read how physical touch feels very awkward (i.e. I feel it's a burden to touch me), so even if he were willing, he's probably getting mixed messages from my end. Smiler I'm really blessed that he puts up with reading my journals/texts, since I am unable to communicate verbally about anything that "means" something.

TN: What I know about attachment is more from the Early Childhood Education courses I took a few years ago. I utilize the information I learned there with my daughter and the child I provide daycare for out of my home. So, I guess I've studied healthy attachment, but not broken attachment (other than a web search here and there). I hesitate to self-diagnose, because I really have no basis to do so, but the closest description I've ever read is borderline personality disorder.
Your description is fairly accurate. My mother was very erratic, undependable, scary (throwing things constantly) and yes I sometimes had to parent her along with my younger siblings. I was usually not on the receiving end of physical fights, because I dealt with her by always trying to be better, both better than her and better than anyone could expect. I didn't always succeed, but I guess I kind of went into martyr mode (and this was before I became a Christian) and sacrificed my needs into oblivion. The week I found out I got into Stanford, I was kicked out of my Mom's house for trying to stay neutral in an argument she was having with my sister. I spent one Summer there and have pretty much never gone back.
My dad was very dependable (emotionally detached, but reliable), until he remarried and I saw him only on weekends, where he had to split time between work, his new wife and me. Seeing him on weekends meant I no longer spent that time with my grandmother (his mother) who was the only consistent caregiver I had. By high school, I ceased seeing him regularly at all. I think I actually stopped being willing to receive help/support from them beyond food and clothing in early middle school.
As far as abuse, my oldest sister said I witnessed my mom's boyfriend throwing her into the wall and dragging her down the hallway by her hair when I was five. I remember knowing that the boyfriend had caused a hole in the hallway wall, like someone had told me a story about it, but have no memory of the event. I don't think I was ever physically abused (beyond putting myself in the middle of others' fights), but I have whole periods of time where my memories are more like general narratives of "how things were." For instance, I don't remember anything changing when my mom had a complete mental breakdown at six. Either I had such minimal contact with her that it didn't seem weird that she was absent or I've blocked it out.
There was a lot of emotional abuse, being told I wasn't good enough, wasn't helping enough, "I don't care," having my mom threaten suicide to me. But I really can't get much beyond, "That's kind of messed up, but whatever."
In terms of dissociation, I have kind of noticed five "states" that I get into that seem to mostly exclude the others: Intellectual, Caregiver, Anxious, Angry/Self-Abuse and Victim. The first two are useful and I can control. The last two are at odds and kind of take me over and get me into cycles where I reach out for help with my overwhelming feelings and then get so angry about that behavior that I can't help but berate/threaten the needy victim part. I'm always "there" so-to-speak, but when I come through one of those states, it's like I can't even relate to the feelings and thoughts I was having even a few seconds before. They don't make any sense. Frowner
As far as my T goes...this may sound stupid, but I have no idea what his approach is. I know he heavily incorporates spirituality (which works for me), but being fairly new to counseling, it really never occurred to me to ask or analyze his "style."

I just noticed there is a "Transference II" topic. Should I be posting over there instead? I didn't mean to reopen an inactive thread if that's what I did.

I've been stewing over how to have this conversation with T most of the evening and it kind of makes me heart-sick, if that makes any sense, to imagine being this vulnerable with something he has the power to offer or deny me. All I can think to say is something along the lines of: "I've been aware, and commented on, my caution around anything that feels like a paternal dynamic. I've been sensing that dynamic here for a while and I think a lot of the reactions I have been having are related to my resistance to allowing myself to participate in those feelings, because of fear, shame and guilt. I don't know if it's something that you have purposefully attempted, consciously allowed, were unaware of or even is just all in my head. I imagine if I have been aware of it enough to comment on it, you have probably realized it, perhaps before I did. I don't necessarily need an explanation and I don't actually mind if we utilize that dynamic as part of this process, but I do want to ask you to please be very careful with me in this area. Abusing myself over these feelings was very damaging, but allowing myself to accept them puts me in a very vulnerable place and I don't feel like I can handle being re-traumatized by rejection." But, I feel, again, like I am manipulating T into accepting me/my feelings when he might not be naturally inclined to. I don't really fear that he will reject or abandon me completely, but I go back and forth on whether it is appropriate for me to want to be nurtured by people instead of taking those needs to God (from my spiritual perspective). Obviously, we were designed to be in relationship with one another, but I get stuck on this concept quite frequently...probably as an excuse to avoid risking dependence on people who might fail me. Wink
Anyway, part of me fears he will just (lovingly) say that God wants or needs to fulfill that role for me and then move on. It's not that I fundamentally disagree, but if my lack of ability to receive nurture on a human level prevents me from accessing it spiritually as well. I don't know. I'm feeling incredibly lame about the whole thing. I made the mistake of texting him that I felt called to discuss something in our next session, so now I probably can't get off the hook with it either.
Monte - you guys can call me Yak. It doesn't bother me. It just seems funny to me, because everything is syllabic in Japanese, so Ya or Yaku might be a more appropriate abbreviation (the change is unnecessary though). Your observations are fair. I do get a little weird about being told I'm intelligent. My poor counselor always says such nice things about how smart he thinks I am, how I could turn my journal entries into a book eventually (I was one class away from a Creative Writing minor). I've had to warn him that being told I'm smart makes me feel like there is an expectation for me to "get" things, which makes it hard for me to admit confusion or disagree with him as an authority figure. That's not really a problem on the internet though, where I feel anonymous.
I don't really expect T to take on a father figure role. It's just kind of confusing to me, because my assumption is that he would NOT want to create/allow that dynamic, but I can't imagine he is unconsciously do it either. So, if he's trying to get me to go directly to God for all my needs, I would prefer that he please stop allowing that dynamic, I guess. Trying to cut it off myself while still remaining "open" was literally tearing me apart. It had me doing things with my self-abusive (and, yes suicidal) inclinations that had never happened during my previous battles with depression, where I was able to just consciously choose to disallow any meaning to those thoughts. But to have that missing piece thrown in your face every week and feel you have to beat your neediness into submission can do some crazy stuff to your mind, I guess. I am sincerely hoping I'm through the other side of that tunnel, because it was all I could do to just not let my kid be exposed. As you can imagine, a lot of empathy and anger about being like my crazy mom. Smiler Anyway, not really wanting to get into that, because revealing it makes me want to punish it and then I'm trapped in a cycle.
I would not say I always express myself this way in person, but often (unless I am "blanked" by anxiety and can't talk at all). If the concept is something I can intellectualize, yes I usually will. If I have thought through and especially if it's something I have written about, I am able to completely dissociate all aspects of feelings when communicating my thoughts or even how I did feel at the time I was processing. And if I can't do that, anxiety automatically does it for me. Sometimes even the most painful things will seem more interesting or amusing than anything else. Basically, think of it in terms of my models: I had a mother who seemed certifiably crazy, very emotional and expressive of her feelings in harmful ways and a father who was detached and analytical to a fault sometimes. He was the safer of the two to emulate. I try not to have same dynamic with my own loved ones, so I guess I kind of switch into Caregiver to relate to people, but the only emotional interaction I can really manage is to give nurture and empathize, not receive or experience my own feelings. It gets to the point where it almost feels I have no identity of my own, like a psychic chameleon, always playing the expected role. T sometimes asks me to go "stream of consciousness" with him verbally, which he assumes I do with my journal. He does not seem to understand that even when writing, it is a drawn out process and it takes a lot of digging to get to a feeling space. I wonder if it is as frustrating to him as it is to me that I cannot talk.
That said, the statement I want to communicate to T was about as unintellectual as I get. Especially the part where I make a request (please be careful), which makes me cringe and have an anxiety attack to just think of saying. Asking directly (as opposed to refusing to need or hinting and hoping) for anything is a nearly impossible level of vulnerability. I pretty much only do it with my husband and because he operates almost completely without reading cues, so I must ask for everything directly. I'm sure you can see how all this will also be a barrier to connecting (T likes to call it abiding) with God...because no one can approach the cross without carrying their brokenness there, without seeking or needing (healing, instruction, forgiveness, the way) and no one has ever succeeded in coming to it with the sort of preparedness and pure motivation I keep aspiring to. My grandmother (again, major caregiver) was a JW, so a lot of that probably comes from there.
Once again feel called to apologize for the quantity of my writing. It's kind of just something that happens. You can imagine what a kind, patient guy my counselor is to be working a full-time practice (out of three offices), have a family, participate in church and make time to read all my (projection) BS.

Also, to answer the question about expressing myself simply, I really struggle with that, because I get so afraid of being misunderstood. For instance, if I said things simply like, "When you call me 'Kiddo,' I feel parented and cared for, which hurts, because I start to realize that absence and I honestly don't know if I'm allowed to receive nurture anymore as an adult." I feel from experience he would apologize for triggering me and think I was asking him to avoid that word, when I just wanted my reaction to be understood, validated and to be given permission to still have those needs. If I give more explanation, I guess I feel at least I won't be rejected out of him misunderstanding me. Also, I'm afraid T telling me to just invite Christ into those feelings will feel like he is telling me I am not allowed to have them. Rejection again. I'm just too worn down from self-restraint to keep this up the way I have been.
Hi Yaku... thanks for clarifying the name. We sort of shorten everyone's names here and some will get very affectionate nicknames after awhile.

Please don't ever apologize for the length of your posts. We enjoy getting to know people and the long posts are very welcome, especially when tackling and addressing complex topics. So far I have enjoyed reading everything you have written and I can see that you have developed a lot of insight into what is going on in therapy. I have to run out for awhile now and will be back later to write when I have time to focus on a thoughtful response.

Thanks for the reassurance. I sometimes worry my humongous posts might be interpreted as an expectation for similarly detailed replies, but that isn't the case. It's just a filter malfunction in my brain.

I'm really enjoying participating here. My husband has recently asked me to "stop using him as a second therapist," because I keep telling him everything and then asking for reassurance that it's OK/normal or getting upset when he looks at me like I'm an alien (for example, admitting I repeatedly read/analyze my text threads and emails with T). 90% of my sharing with him comes from a place of feeling that as my partner, he should have a deeper emotional intimacy with me than anyone (so I tell him everything I tell T, though maybe less detail). The problem is, his issues and experiences are so different from mine that he doesn't "get" it and it really frustrates him when his attempts to fix it are rebuffed, because I just want to be related to. So, finding other people who do get is relieving some of that tension. I guess that is my long way of saying, "Thanks!" Wink
In about one day, I will be sitting in T's office trying to have this ridiculous conversation about how this paternal dynamic is effing me up and I still don't even know what I'm going to say or how to say it. I've texted him that I'm having anxiety attacks about something I know we need to discuss, so I doubt there is any getting out of it unless I dissociate into a barely verbal state and just can't. I haven't driven him away with my ridiculous thoughts or behavior so far (which he even has the courtesy to deny are ridiculous), so I have no logical reason to believe he'll be repulsed and push me away. But it feels like such a certainty.

I tried to explain to my husband that if T allows this transference to exist or fosters it (even unintentionally) like he has been and then suddenly withdraws, it will break me and the trust I have built with T. Hubby laughed at me and sarcastically said, "Seriously? Break you? You'll never bounce back? You won't ever be able to trust him again?" Am I crazy for feeling that that would be severely re-traumatizing? I don't think I have trusted anyone but my husband and maybe my pastor with the reality of me, and both of those people have known me for years, not months. T has gotten so deep, so quickly...and now the idea of that trust makes me feel an inconsolable loneliness.

What I need to hear is that it's OK to let myself accept these feelings, to attempt to release the shame I use to regulate them, and utilize them to get at what's underneath (the abandonment, neglect and abuse I can feel only ambivalence about) and he will be there for me as long as I need, no matter how heavy it gets, until I am ready for him to slowly step back, more able to relate to and rely on God as my Father, and have built other trusting relationships.

PLEASE, can T say exactly that? Can he say that what I need from him is not too much? That it's not wrong and sick? That it's understandable to need him for now? That I can trust him with that need? That one too many mistakes on my part won't drive him away? I need to know he will be careful and tender if I'm going to open up that box marked FRAGILE. It's full of broken shards of me that I've always thought were too sharp for anyone to help me put back together, because allowing them to be touched can only cause damage to anyone who comes into contact with me.

I keep feeling like an angry shift is going to happen and I'm going to go to that place where all I want is to abuse and starve my little victim into submission to keep this need at bay. If I end up back where I was a few weeks ago, I may seriously have to quit, because I'm exhausted by these sick spirals!

Thanks to everyone for letting me vent and putting up with me posting so much so soon after joining. I haven't been letting myself do my introspective journaling, because it will negate any chance I have of sharing with T on a feeling level. But some of this anxiety had to find a home somewhere...
Hello all,

I haven't posted anything in a few months. I hope all of you are doing well or at least moving forward. To refresh you, I have been going to marriage counseling with my wife for 2 years now. Last fall, I developed some serious transference feelings for my couples therapist. She met with me many times on an individual basis to help me work out some negative feelings I was having. She actually did a great job and changed my entire outlook on life. But because my wife is somewhat unsupportive, ok, she is very unsupportive in every way, my therapist became who I leaned on for support.

As the transference grew stronger, I knew I had to do something about it so I sought out a different individual therapist. He was a big help. I already knew what was going on with me because of sights like this one, so he didn't really have much info. to offer. But it was so nice to be able to just get the words out. I stopped going to him in late Feb. He had encouraged me to tell my couples therapist my feelings. It took me a month to prepare and after 2 months of not talking about it, I felt like I needed to say something. So last week I finally told her.

She was great. She was completely supportive and a total professional. However, because she is our couple’s therapist, my wife has to know everything that my therapist knows. Also, my wife has seen me completely break down. She also knows that I was going to an individual therapist other than our couples therapist. So my wife is waiting for an answer anyway. So on top of everything, I'm now preparing to tell my wife.

The week after I told my therapist about the transference was hard, but not as hard as it was dealing with it alone a few months ago. Yesterday I actually woke up feeling good about things. I thought maybe things were getting better. But something happened last night where I feel like I took 50 steps back. I couldn't get my couples therapist out of my head and was overwhelmed with despair. I'm feeling so sad now and I don't understand why I seem to have gone backwards.

This really really sucks. When I get this down and the transference takes over, I withdraw from my family. I’m rude and short with my wife and I don’t have any tolerance for my 2 wonderful boys. My boys don’t deserve to be ignored by their father. Also, I feel like I keep having to start over.
Stuck - I'm new to the forum, so I don't know your nickname, but I did read your posts when I was browsing this thread after I first joined. I'm glad you were able to tell your T about the transference feelings. I think without it out in the open, nothing can really be worked through. H and I see the same T, but not for marital, but sometimes information cross-pollinates, so I can understand how hard it must be to have to share your attachment with your wife. In my case, my transference isn't really erotic, so it isn't quite so hard to share with H. But, he doesn't get it, really at all, and can be very judgmental about it, non-supportive, so I can understand how daunting that is. Therapy has really crashed my ability to be the type of wife and mom I want to be, so I can understand those feelings too. I don't have much advice to offer, except that your caring about what type of husband and dad you are means a lot. No one can ever "nail" the mark when it comes to relationships, but caring enough to keep trying even when we fail is something. It's a lot better than either of my parents offered me. I don't know your background, so I can't say if that is the same for you. I will share with you that my H has shared a lot of uncomfortable feelings of being attracted to other women, both sexually and relationally...other women I am very close to. It IS hard, but it is not beyond my ability to accept and forgive, because his honesty means it is not something he wants for our relationship. It is something he is trying to move through. He wants to have those feelings for me instead. I'm hoping your wife, who is in therapy with you because she wants to make things work (I would think?), can see your honesty as a form of intimacy with her and a way of trying to get at that man who you want to be, the husband and dad you want to be.

I don't know if any of this is helpful, but I'm glad you shared here. Keep us up-to-date as you progress. Transference feelings can be so overwhelming and I have found such support here to process them, personally.
What do you mean when you say you feel like you have to start over? You mean start over in a new relationship?

I think its wonderful that you told your couples T about the transference. What a relief it must have been that she was so supportive, but I also understand the fear of now having to tell your wife. Hopefully with your Ts support, your wife will handle the news well.

Keep us posted.
Hi Stuck,

Thanks for the update. I'm really glad that you were able to tell your couples T about the transference. I'm hopeful that she will be able to explain this to your wife in a way that your wife can accept and understand. Hopefully it can provide the basis for some deeper exploration and dialogue in your therapy.

Please let us know how it goes if you can.
Hi SBRH- nice to see you again. I see that you *are* making progress. When you last posted you were certain that you would never be able to own your feelings for your T to her- and just look- you have. So that is something to celebrate.

One thing you need to know- is that because of therapist and client confidentiality- your therapist cannot tell your wife what you revealed without your permission. That being said, when the time is right open communication is probably your best course of action. I strongly recommend that you reveal this in the context of the therapy. Doing it alone without the help of your couples or other T to explain it to your wife, might lead to a lot of terrible misunderstanding about it, as it is likely that your wife may not understand the nature of transference and may think of it as you being "unfaithful" to her- which isn't true. I think exploring the transference may well be the therapy you and wife need- because if you are not getting the support you need from you wife to be the husband and the father you long to be- then it is of course natural that you will try to (unconsciously) get those needs met elsewhere. and that is perfectly natural and normal part of therapy. So talking about it with the help of your T can help ease your wife into a more supportive role so that you at least are getting some of your needs for understanding and appreciation and acceptance met by your wife, along with your T.
Your feelings may be telling you that you are no good- but I see otherwise. I see a man who longs to be accepted, is honest, and clearly cares deeply about his wife even in spite of not getting what you need from her, and his children. I see someone who is being really honest about something terribly difficult and vulnerable. You ARE making progress SBRH. It just doesn't feel that way because of the pain. Don't give up on yourself. You are a great guy. Clearly. I understand how the pain of transference can sap all our energy and make it impossible to give anything to anyone. But- on the other side of the pain you will come out better and stronger and more sure of yourself and your own innate goodness.

Sending you loads of support- and respect, too-

Thank you so much BB. Everybody's words have been so helpful! After my last post, I emailed my T to get more advice on how I should tell my wife. I made many good points about how this would really hurt my wife. But I also agreed that I had to tell my wife something because she has seen me in so much pain. I made so many good points in the email that my T just wanted me to come in for an individual session.

I did so today. It went well. We worked out a truthful way to address it that shouldn't hurt my wife. To sum it up, I simply tell my wife that since I couldn't find support in my marriage, I found it in therapy. Things have gotten better btween my wife and I and I think she'll agree that we haven't been supportive to each other. We think this is a good way to go.

Now for the bad part. And I didn't see this coming. My T told me that I shouldn't come to her anymore for individual therapy. This is for 2 reasons. 1, so my wife doesn't suspect that I'm going to see my therapist for any reasons other than therapy. 2, it's for my own good. While I had already had these thoughts, and deep down I agree, I hated to hear it. I just didn't think she would do that. That REALLY sucks.

I had been going to a different individual therapist before I told my marriage T about this so she suggest I go to him.

Thanks for all of your support through this.

Stuck - I'm glad you were able to work out a way to tell your wife, but sorry it seems to have come at the expense of so much pain for you. I would go ahead and email your T about these feelings that are coming up and let her know. Stuffing those feelings probably won't be healthy in the long run. It doesn't mean she will necessarily change her opinion, but as you're still working in marital therapy with this T, I think openness is to the benefit of your therapy experience and your marriage.

I am so sorry she doesn't feel she can work with you anymore. I understand it, yet I don't really. I guess, as a matter of conflict with the marital therapy, I can understand it...but as a matter of the T/client relationship, everything in me is screaming how wrong that is. Imagining my T doing that to me is devastating. Again, I'm not in marital counseling, but H and I see the same T, so imagining him saying he had to pick between us is terrifying. I'm sure it must be very painful. I hope you stick around and get support here as long as you need it!
I was also wondering why you and your T would think it was for your own good to terminate your individual therapy with her.. I can understand the temptation to think your wife will be suspicious when you go to sessions- however if it is explained to her clearly, that it is a therapeutic necessity to experience the transference- and if your T works that way, then it shouldn't be a problem. No less pain for you- but at least you'd have a chance to work through your transference with the T you are having it with.

My H knows about my transference, and he sees the pain I am in and is supportive to me in that vulnerable place- when I can show it to him, which is hard- even though- he knows about that my feelings for T are stronger (currently) than for him- he also understands that the feelings are from the past (thus their terrible intensity) and not about the present- and will not be acted upon. I've explained to him and he understands (better than my T does, apparently Roll Eyes) that it is a natural part of therapy, and that it almost has to happen. So he actually comforts me when I am able to let him, in the middle of the transference pain. There are times when it has brought us closer together because it opens my heart and he sees my pain, and then I can feel his love. I think the same might happen for you, if you let your wife see your pain. My own H is probably nervous to sign up for individual therapy himself because he sees the agony I am in sometimes and is afraid it will happen like that to him. As long as your T can keep her boundaries securely in place, it is normal and acceptable to continue. But- you know the best, your situation, so this is just outsider feedback, use it only if it is helpful to you, of course.

I'm glad you have another T to help and to turn to, in any case. I'm so sorry that this has transpired, SBR..I would send the email, if you can't talk to her about it in session.


Sorry if I wasn't clear. I haven't told my wife yet. I will tomorrow night. I think it will go well though...I hope.
Blackbird, thank you for the thoughts. I am so upset about not being able to see her anymore. However, I do see her point. Or maybe I'm so wrapped up in the session that I just had that I can't see through her suggestions. Either way, I believe she has my best interests in mind.

Also, thank you too Yak.

This will be difficult. This really sucks!
Hi again,

Thank you to all of you for helping me and supporting me through this.

My wife and I had the conversation about my transference with our marriage T. Only time will tell how it really effected her. But I feel much better that I have no secrets to hide anymore. I told her that I found support through our marriage T. The support that I wasn’t finding in our marriage.

Over the past few months, our marriage has improved. Had it not been for that, this would not have gone over so well. My wife was angered (hurt) by this at first. She definitely does NOT understand transference. But I think by the end of the conversation, she excepted it…MAYBE?? My marriage T will be contacting her in the next few days to reinforce what I said and maybe explain it in terms that she can understand.

As far as not being able to see my couples T anymore...that hurt! After she told me, I couldn't stop crying. I didn't sleep that night. I sat in front of the computer for an hour debating on if I should send her an email that simply said, "I'm hurt. Not mad. Just really hurt". I ended up not sending it. I had to hide the crying from my wife. The following day, I went to my new T. He was a big help. He told me I was in mourning. I was grieving for the loss of somebody that was important to me and now she is gone forever. I really really lost it when he said that. I cried really hard because he was right. I cried all through the day. The next day, I felt much better. I still miss my T but I am now dealing with the loss. The difference between transference and grieving is that grieving/mourning eventually ends. Transference feels like it will never end. I'm happy about that.

Thanks again for all your support through this confusing time.
I hope I'm coming unStuckBetweenRockandHardPlace
I'm sorry you aren't able to see your couples T any more. I know how difficult it is terminating with a therapist, especially before you are ready to do so. I hope your new T is able to help you through this difficult transition.

I also hope that your couples T will be able to put things in terms that your wife will understand. It sounds as though even though she doesn't necessarily understand the concept of transference, she is accepting of it.
Stuck - I just want to say that you are so brave. I have been trying to explain my "dad" transference to H (and how it interferes with our marriage when I am not finding understanding/acceptance at home, but AM in therapy) and he doesn't really get it. We're OK, but I get that feeling of disconnect and how hard it is to have someone you love very much and you're working hard to connect with be hurt and angered by your honest communication.

I'm sorry not being with T is hurting you so much, but so glad you seem to have your new T to walk through it with. I get what you mean about transference feeling like it will never end, but I really hope that's not true! Because, my goal is to be able to see T and still care about that connection, but not in a way that feels like I will die once we finish our work together. H is pretty adamant about a very firm end, for now at least, so I'm scared if these feelings never go away or diminish, I will be suffering so much and most likely be even closer and more dependent by then. I have to imagine once it internally connects with what it is about, it gets easier...right? Please!!! Hopefully, your mourning process will also be something that can connect to what your transference is about.
Hi Yak,

I have known what my transference is about for some time. I got the support and validation that I needed from my wife through my T. I really hate to say that does not make anything any easier.

I do believe that what my T has done, while it pains me so much, is in my best interest as far as not seeing me anymore for individual sessions. Because of my feelings, I can not see her for couples sessions either. I don't think she fully understands this or maybe she is trying to go easy on me by leaving me a way in.

I'm sorry to say that. Hang in there.
Stuck - What I mean by "connect" is not knowledge, really. I know exactly what my transference feelings are about. Often, I can point out exactly what specific things T says or does to trigger them. I can give him a list of incidents that were similar in my past. But, if you asked me if I felt anything about those things that happened in the past, nope! I don't feel hurt/upset/angry that my dad was in and out of my life, in an out-of-sight-out-of-mind sort of way. The most I can remember about being told that my step-mom was "done raising kids" and I wasn't welcome to live with my dad is confusion and surrendering to that reality. The feelings I remember about my mom's abuse and neglect are feelings of pride for being "better" and sacrificing for the benefit of my family. So, I'm hoping that if my feelings of abandonment, fear, etc. can feel like they are ABOUT those past events, I will be less afraid of losing my T. Right now, I intellectually know they're not about him, but they FEEL about him anyway. Also, some of the stuff is so far back that I can't remember it. Mom left me alone in cribs/playpens for hours, sometimes crying the whole time, according to other family members. My parents split when I was one for a couple of years (and then they were off and on), so my dad disappeared on me quite a bit before my earliest memories. So, whatever injuries are related to that infant/toddler era, I'm not sure I can do much about...but I am hopeful! I guess if it doesn't get better after a period of time, I'll just have to give it up and endure the "abandonment" again.
Aw, SBR- I'm sorry your are hurting so much inside. I wish there was a way that you could take that pain to your wife and let her comfort some of it, I wonder if she would be able to support you in that way...just to give you a hug or be with you in a bit- that would be so nice. I used to be able to let my H comfort me in the transference pain, but lately that has gotten too difficult so I know how hard it is to feel you have to bear it alone. I'm very glad that you have the other T to help you, as I can see that you decision is made.
((((hugs)))) I hope we can support you in this really difficult time. Here is one place at least where we can all understand the pain of losing a beloved T.


Is transference something you can manage? I welcomed it when I discovered what was happening because I feel like I trust her enough to explore these things no matter how awkward it may be at times, but at the same time I didn't bargain for all of this. I could be walking my dog in a park full of vampires at midnight, and all I think about is sitting in that chair talking to her. I'm giving myself 2 weeks to get past this or I will quit seeing her. I do not want to let it get to a point where I'm calling her or any of that nonsense. To put it simply, this sucks and it's getting worse every day.

And can someone recommend a cool signature for a psych board? Thanks.
Hello Analyze This and welcome to the forum. Sorry that I have no experience of positive transference (my speciality is full on negative stuff!) but there are loads of others on here who know what you are talking about and will be able to comment.

Just wanted to say hi.


p.s. can't help with the signature either, as you can see I haven't even managed an avatar let alone a sig.
I'm trying to understand if this is more transference or just attachment to your therapist. My experience of transference is that I feel my T as a parental figure. I want want things from him that I would want from a good parent. I am scared he will abandon me and disappear from my life, like my father did. When he acts/talks certain ways, I get triggered into seeing him in ways that are not congruent with our actual relationship and my experiences of his kindness and caring. So, for me, the positive transference experiences are things like wanting him to take care of me, wanting to just be with him all the time, being anxious about being separated from him, wanting him to hug me, etc. It isn't positive in terms that it always feels good. It's positive in terms that I am reacting to him as if he is a "good parental figure" from my childhood. T is good and safe = positive. T feels like my dad and I feel like his kiddo = transference of the therapeutic relationship into one that feels like parent-child. Negative transference experiences for me are things like being sure he is going to abandon me, abuse me, is thinking nasty things about me, hates me, etc. T is mean and unsafe to rely on = negative. T feels neglectful, abusive and abandoning like many of my actual experiences with my mom and dad = transference.

In both positive and negative transference, my experiences of my T are either incongruent with or out of proportion to the reality of our interactions in a way that directly relates to my past experiences. Is this what you experience with your T? Or is it just that you feel safe with her and really want to talk to her? I have a feeling you mean the former, but I wanted to make sure. It's not a pleasant experience, but if your T is open and accepting of working through it and exploring it with you, I've found it can really move things along in a way that just talking about my past never has. So, I hope you can consider not giving up.
Hi Analyze This and welcome,

My experience was that it only got more difficult until I took action. In my case, I went to another T to tell him how I felt about my other T. I thought I could manage it. I thought it would fade away. For me, I developed transference for my marriage therapist which made things complicated because I had to hide the feelings and thoughts from my wife. I eventually told my marriage therapist how I felt. At first, I thought it went well. But after the smoke cleared, all my fears of abondonment by my marriage T came true. She would no longer see me on an individual basis.

Now because this is a couples therapist, my experience is different from what most people have to deal with in an individual therapist. But it still hurt just as bad. I've been dealing with this for 6 months and I hope I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
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