I am 45 and a very experienced therapy-goer. Despite difficulties early in life I am doing reasonably well.
At this point but I continue therapy for other improvements. I understand completely that a sexual or romantic relationship is verboten in a therapeutic relationship. I know very well what transference is as I am no newbie.
I have had romantic feelings for therapists in the past and never acted on anything. One of my past therapists had no idea until I told him. I’m pretty discreet and not impulsive one bit.
However with my latest therapist of almost two years, I feel what might be a mutual spark. I could be flattering myself it may be one sided. I have a vague sense that it is mutual but no one has crossed a blatant line. What are the ‘little things’ that are signs of trouble? Pre-violations if you will. What are the innocent beginnings that lead to the slippery slope?
He has been a great therapist and even if the feelings are mutual I really don’t think he will act on it. He seems ethical to me if not possibly having struggles of his own in his own life. I had such a hard time finding a good fit of a therapist I don’t want to give him up.
Talking about it has worked with therapists in the past because I was pretty sure this was all in my transference. This may be case where I am sensing something real.
Talking about it feels dangerous this time. Are there signs I am missing that will show me it is either all in my head or we are heading for trouble?
Talking about the danger with your therapist is essential. What you have explained here is a pattern of having romantic feelings for therapists in the past, which is normal but it also places this feeling on a continuum. Talk about it, talk about the process. The sign of ‘pre-violation’ is your feeling of danger. Don’t keep these feelings secret. The fact that it feels too dangerous to talk about should be an indication that you are not wanting to jeopardize the fantasy.
Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.
APA Reference Tomasulo, D. (2018). What Constitutes ‘Slippery Slope’ in Therapy. Psych Central.
Retrieved on May 25, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/04/02/what-constitutes-slippery-slope-in-therapy/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.