Attachment to therapist

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. Okay, I have been seeing a therapist for 3 years and he is great. I tend to cling to people and have always looked for older men to put into father-figure roles, which is what I have done with him. I have discussed this with him, but I don’t know if he understands how much I think about him. I am going through a rough period of depression right now and that makes me cling even more. I have a wonderful husband, but he obviously doesn’t fit into my idea of a father-figure. I have also been diagnosed with a mild form of borderline personality disorder. Could this be why I idolize my therapist so much? I imagine him coming to my rescue. How abnormal is this? Can you give me any insight into why I feel this way?

A. To a psychoanalyst, transference (your feelings toward him) is seen as negative and would necessitate ending the therapeutic relationship. [Ed. -- This is not generally true, see this page about the role of transference in psychoanalysis for more information.] However, in existential therapy transference is a good thing, indicating a deep bond between you and your therapist making it more likely to produce the fastest progress possible. I do not think this is abnormal and I would encourage you take the time in a session to explain fully how you feel, including the breadth and intensity of your feelings. You should not keep this from your therapist.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Mar 2005

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2005). Attachment to therapist. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2005/03/20/attachment-to-therapist/