Love In The Therapeutic Relationship

Now this is an awkward topic, right? Which is why I haven’t written about it yet. I’ve been meaning to for quite a while now, but I couldn’t get myself to start. After the in-person session I had with my therapist last week Monday, I feel the time is right. There’s nothing strange with what I’m writing about, it’s just that not everyone is as comfortable with this topic as I am. I get it. I was there too. In fact, even though it’s so much easier for me to explore this these days, I still feel a little vulnerable. But that’s why I love my blog space. I can be as open and honest as I want without anyone seeing the different shades of red spreading across my face when I share certain things. “Red suits you”, one of my friends recently said after she kissed me on the cheek. In my defense, we’ve been friends for over 21 years, and she’s never done anything like that. She’s one of those “anti-touch” people.

So. I love my therapist. She knows this, as I’ve told her a couple of times in the past. I once asked her whether that was okay. Trust me when I tell you, it’s okay. I haven’t said those words to her since last year, but there have been a few times where I’ve almost blurted out again “I love you”, but didn’t. I wasn’t quite on the “knowing what I actually mean” path yet.

The love I felt for her has taken on different meanings throughout the first year of working with her. The “in what way?” question had been a source of confusion during much of that time. A few sessions into our first couple of months working together, I had a little bit of a crush on her. Okay, maybe a big one. There was also a time where I thought I might actually be in love with her, or getting there. I told you…Awkward. Plenty of times, I thought that loving her is wrong. That I’m not supposed to. Not allowed to. That it’s inappropriate. The natural consequence of those thoughts was shame. And a lot of it.

Sometime last year, I went through a stage where I had a few intimate dreams of her. They confused me. I told her about one or two of them, but never went into detail of course. It’s intimidating and so scary to bring these kinds of dreams and feelings to our therapists. Wondering what’s wrong with us, and feeling ashamed and embarrassed. But it’s nothing they haven’t heard before. Those feelings can be so big sometimes, and it’s important to talk about it. I’m guilty of not always having spoken to her about some of those feelings. But I know I’ll be able to if something ever comes up again. After all, I need to practice what I preach, right?

I once told my therapist that I love her as a person. A fellow human being. But that’s very broad isn’t it? After all, I only get to see the professional Clinical Psychologist side of her (with little bits of self-disclosure thrown into the mix every now and then). But, it’s still her. Maybe I don’t get to see the other roles she plays outside the therapy room, such as that of wife, daughter, friend, etc. But I also get to see her in her role as therapist, which they don’t get to see.

“I love coffee.”
“I love my friends.”
“I love my parents.”
“I love my partner.”
“I love my children.”
“I love my pet/s.”

Love. One word to represent different forms of it. So I’m going to call this form “therapy love”.

I feel like I’ve grown in the love I feel for her. I’m finally in a comfortable, secure place, where it just makes perfect sense. It’s not the kind of love shared between partners, parents, children or friends. It’s a love of its own. But it’s not less than those other forms. The therapeutic relationship is unique and not the typical kind of relationship, but it’s still a relationship. And the same is true of the love that we feel inside that relationship. I know a lot of you love your therapists this way too.

Then there’s the love that the youngest parts feel. I think it comes out of how children might feel about their main attachment figure? I’m not sure. I can’t remember if I felt anything about my earliest attachment to my mom. The earliest memories I have of her is when I was about 3 or 4 I think. But I also don’t remember much from those years and those after. Just little (and big) things here and there. But the love for my therapist that comes from those little parts feels different. Attachment love maybe?

Seeing my therapist again last Monday was amazing. When she came to get me, the minute I saw her face, it felt as though my heart just lit up. It was so nice being back in her office. It was familiar, with that “home” feeling. I like the fact that she has couches, and not just chairs. Like with my psychiatrist and OT, it felt a little awkward sitting in those chairs. I also find it intimidating because you have someone sitting right in front of you, whereas the way my therapist’s couches are arranged, you don’t get that “she’s staring me down” vibes. It’s comfortable and makes the space feel less clinical, and more welcoming.

I brought a lot to her that session. Way too much. I was emotional and jumped from one topic to the next. I was extremely ungrounded. So I gave her too much to work with, or too little. But at least now I understand (after she explained it to me), how the way I want therapy to work won’t provide long-term benefits. I might feel better for a few hours afterward, but that’s not the goal. I’ve always felt that maybe I’m doing therapy wrong. But there isn’t a wrong. It’s a learning journey as well. And now I understand her view better, and it makes so much more sense. Now I know better how to approach our sessions. Strangely, I feel more in control, like there’s a clear structure to work with. I’ve always tried to squeeze as much into a session as possible, because it feels time pressured due to the fact that I don’t see her every week. I feel like our most productive sessions have been when we’ve stuck with one topic though, and I know she feels the same way about this. I prefer it that way, so will give up on the “time pressure”.

Sometime during the session, my therapist asked “what do you want?”. In that moment, every part of me wanted to say “can you please come sit next to me? Hug me?” Of course I didn’t ask that. I’m very aware of boundaries these days, and I especially don’t want to cross any of her personal boundaries.

Near the end of the session, I wanted to show my therapist some of the pictures that I had taken while visiting with my mom, sisters, aunt and uncle. By that time I was feeling much more grounded. I like how she always seems so interested in seeing the pictures that I take. Last year, during one of the sessions we had when I was still living in the same city as her, I also showed her a picture (of me when I was a little girl- moody as hell), but I just handed her the phone where she was sitting. This time though, she actually moved to the furthest end of her couch, so she was close to mine. That surprised me (in a good way of course). One of the other reasons why I didn’t ask her whether she could come sit by me, was because I was also holding onto shame (so what else is new dammit), and therefore felt untouchable, unlovable and hideous. Why would she want to sit close to me? Why would anyone? Stupid inner voice. That one little action, of her moving closer, made a world of difference. It felt as though she broke through another one of my defenses. I have so many, I don’t even know all of them. Most are (probably) subconscious.

At some point I had the urge to draw, colour in, paint, etc. Why, I have no idea. My therapist let me borrow some paper and her pencil, and I got to it. It was so small, just took up a little space in the corner. I drew one thing on top of the other. No one would have been able to decipher that and know what the hell I had just drawn. But I know, so that’s what matters.

At the end of our session, I started to feel a little emotional again. I didn’t want to leave. But of course, I had to. Don’t you just hate that? As we were walking out, I wanted to ask my therapist whether I could hug her, but felt too shy to ask. But I knew that if I didn’t, I would probably regret it for a long, long time, and beat myself up over it. And then without thinking about it any further, I just came out and asked if I can give her a hug. She said “of course” and when she said it that way, I knew she was comfortable with it then, and I felt relieved. And my favourite part was when she said “I’ll give you one”. I loved that! It was the most special, meaningful hug I’ve ever had. A hug from the person that I never thought I’d ever get to be that close to.

It feels like my connection to her, that bond, has deepened. Which I didn’t think was even possible. I felt loved and valued. She really cares about me. And that’s such an amazing, warm, and soothing feeling.

So…

I love my therapist.

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27 thoughts on “Love In The Therapeutic Relationship

  1. Hi!
    I really found your article hugely interesting, your relationship with your therapist sounds very strong and hopefully that will help you overcome your deamons, i don’t go to therapy although there are many times i wish i had the courage to!
    I am so glad you managed to ask for that hug, that in itself sounds like a huge step for you!
    Your doing awesome and taking big steps, and that is positive!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi. πŸ™‚ Thank you for your comment. Deciding to start therapy and going in for the first time is terrifying, and it does take courage… Which we all have, even when we don’t feel like we have it. All we need to do is take a leap. I’m so happy that I took that leap, and I think you will too if you decide to go ahead. πŸ™‚

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        1. I understand what you mean about an invisible yet physical barrier… I struggle with that with certain things as well, so no judgement here. Maybe one day that wall will disappear for you. πŸ™‚ Therapy has changed my life. It’s the single best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. I’m sure you’ll get there. You already want to go, so that’s a step in the right direction. Haha, you’re right… If you went to therapy, you WOULD find the strength. πŸ˜‰

              Liked by 1 person

  2. I totally understand what you are saying. I had these kind of feelings for my lawyer during my divorce from my abusive ex. My lawyer made me feel safe and he was on my side. I feel like it’s normal to have feelings of love for someone that makes you feel safe and nurtured. I’m happy for you ❀ (Sorry, I used the word 'feelings' way too much, oh well πŸ˜‰ )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What you wrote is so true… that it being normal to have feelings of love for those who make us feel safe and nurtured. Hehe, I didn’t even notice how many times you used the word “feelings”… Have you noticed how many times I used the word “love” in this post? Now THAT’S using a word way too much. πŸ˜› ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is so special. Such a strong bond.
    I have had so many therapists and none have I felt like I feel with this one.
    She asked one day if she could just rest her hand on my shoulder and give me a nurturing motherly touch. It was profound.
    The fact that your therapist asked if she could give YOU the hug got me all choked up.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Awww…I feel you Rayne. I really do. You’re so cute. I think it’s natural to have these feelings especiallally for those like us. I had a crush on a female therapist of mine once, but only once. She was the one in Austin that I began going to when I fled from my husband. She was pretty too (which was also a plus) lol!!

    Anyway, she was so understanding that could never look her in her eyes..as a matter of fact I can’t really look anyone directly in the eye. Hahaha!! I didn’t get the chance to hug her, because I do have boundry issues, but like you I did think about her alot. Which is why if I could have, I would have had a session with her every day of the week. lol! Therapy Love, huh?? Hmmm…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I’m cute am I? Hehe! My therapist is BEAUTIFUL. Definitely my type, hence the initial crush. πŸ˜‰

      I’m the same when it comes to looking people directly in the eye. I’m better at it than I used to be, especially with those I trust and know well, but I still find it hard sometimes. I have to make a conscious effort to do it.

      ❀

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  5. This was really interesting….I tell myself husband that I love my psychologist but I’d never tell her. I’d be mortified if she explcitly knew. I think they know that wounded people are seeking safety and comfort in others. I would never hug my therapist or hold her hand. She keeps it boundaried. When therapy stops I know I’ll grieve for her. It’s a very unique bond. I love you too 😊 Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The first time I told her I love her, the words shocked me. They just tumbled out. I’ve never been one to tell anyone that, without them having said it first, so it was a huge surprise hearing those words coming out of my mouth! It was as if someone else had taken over, lol. It really is a unique bond. It’s so special and beautiful. I love you! ❀ xx

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  6. I am so glad that you have this bond with your therapist. I have this bond as well and I can say it was nothing that I expected when I first started seeing her. I never trusted people so to let myself be that vulnerable took some time but it came. I have never told her that I have loved her but I do. I look up to her and respect her beyond what I can explain. I have told her before that I would not be alive if I wouldn’t have met her because in all reality she did save my life. We end every session with a hug and that makes me feel so happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to hear that you’ve also got this bond with your therapist. It’s a beautiful thing. It really is. ” I have told her before that I would not be alive if I wouldn’t have met her because in all reality she did save my life.” It’s the same way with me. You deserve those hugs. πŸ™‚ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

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