Crush on shrink
I was in therapy, including a one-month hospitalization, because I have suffered from depression for more than seven years. I'm doing fine now, thanks to medication and an excellent psychiatrist! But there's the problem: During therapy (after a couple of years) I fell in love with the man! I know you're supposed to fall in love with your psychiatrist; he even told me that when we discussed my feelings about him. But how long does this go on? I have not seen him for over a year (he has retired, but we felt I didn't need therapy anymore anyway), but I can't stop thinking about him, and find myself hoping we'll meet. It's love and lust and I'm 62 years old, for heaven's sake! Sometimes I feel like I've suffered a loss and miss him terribly. How do I cope with this? (I'm married by the way, but adore my husband).
How do I manage my persistent feelings of love and loss in relation to my therapist? Would short-term therapy (with somebody ELSE) be of any benefit?
Thanks for writing. Yes. I think therapy would be indicated for you. Here's why...while I think you and your psychiatrist did a great job beginning to examine this (sexualized transference, erotic transference, romantic transference, whatever you want to call it), I don't think you and he finished the work. Probably due to his impending retirement at the time, you both steered clear of really working through this and resolving it. You left therapy still needing and wanting something from him.
The work which got cut short (and didn't happen due to his retirement), would probably have dealt with pretty deep issues (abandonment, betrayal, loss), as he "picked" retirement over you. Chances are excellent that you would've moved into exploring some feelings which are probably very uncomfortable for you, such as anger, rage, hurt, loss.
Your job (in the work) would have been to tolerate feeling all of this. His job (in the work) would have been to tolerate your expression of these feelings to him. Can you see now why you both (unconsciously) decided you "didn't need therapy anymore"?
There are all sorts of other, complicating reasons (due to your age and developmental stage) which would make any "ending" significant, I suspect, so you will probably get to these feelings in any therapeutic relationship in which you involve yourself.
The ending of therapy is always a "given" and is discussed thoroughly in any therapeutic relationship. Your uncanny awareness of this is shown by your choice of "short term therapy," which, of course, begins AND ENDS quickly. My recommendation to you is that you give yourself this gift of working through and ending therapy completely, and that you take as long as you need to finish. Please use your current obsession to motivate you to complete this work of self-acceptance and self-love.
Trust your instincts to find a therapist for this very intense and intimate therapy. He (or she) will be honored to join you in this deep and healing work.
All the best!
Margaret "Peg" Burr, MA, MFT
This question was answered by Margaret "Peg" Burr. She is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC34374) with a private practice in Santa Clarita (near Los Angeles). She performs psychodynamic psychotherapy with individual adult clients as well as couples, teens, and families. She also runs groups for adults and adolescents. Her specialty area is Object Relations Systems Theory. This branch of psychodynamic psychotherapy uses a client's interpersonal relationships as windows into his or her intrapsychic structure.For more information visit: http://www.pegburr.com/