Many years ago I would spend a week deciding what to wear. Should I wear this skirt because it was bold and flowing or these jeans because they were tight and hugging – leather or lace, denim or Doc Martens? What stylish, stunning threads would be the right ones in order to illicit the response I wanted? It all depended on my intention – was it to entertain and seduce, defend and demand or gain hope and heal?
Years ago I used to dress according to the role I wanted her to play with me, whether it be best friend, favourite aunt, smart sister, emotionally devoid mother, or secret lover and I would spend an inordinate amount of time getting my clothes and hair just right to illicit as many compliments as possible. When I was more regressed and should have been wearing a onesie to therapy, she would always comment on my hair and I’d forgotten about that until she mentioned how nice my new hairstyle looked recently and the memories came flooding back. In the past she always appeared to have a special weakness for my long blonde hair, one that I used to exploit mercilessly for her attention and approval. I always gave her compliments the more sinister interpretation of a seduction scenario.
Whether a cigar is just a cigar depends if you have a psychoanalytic bent or a cognitive-behavioural one. I finally realised that I had a therapist who prefers to stay in the present moment and lets you know that your hair looks nice today and that her compliments should be met with a simple “thank you.” Ever since that time ten years ago I have met similar compliments from other people with a similar response. Much of her firm, common sense therapy has sunk in over the years.
Since I stopped worrying about impressing her and more time asking her to challenge my belief systems, we spend …
I was surprised to find “Good Will Hunting” on our DVD recorded movies list. Apparently my oldest son, Matt recorded it thinking it was about guns. A great movie, and it was the bit at the end that settled an eternal question for me. Matt Damon hugs Robin Williams and says: “Doesn’t this violate the doctor/patient relationship?” and Robin Williams replies, “Only if you grab my arse.”
So, let’s get to the bottom of this once and for all. If it is OK for therapeutic couples to hug, then here are some types of therapy room hugs that might be considered appropriate:
The Stealth Hug: This happened for me about eight years ago. I saw her in the corridor wearing a green jumper and a black pleated skirt and I made a snap decision, so when I got into the room, I launched myself at her. She was quite startled, but put her arms around me and hugged. That, by the way, is the only correct response when a client stealth hugs a therapist. Had she refused, my mortification factor would have been stratospheric and I would have had to leave immediately – never to come back again. When a therapist refuses a client’s stealth hug it can make the client feel contaminated at best and the embodiment of evil at worst.
The therapy “hour” is anywhere from 45 – 60 minutes, which is clearly not nearly enough time to arrive, get down and get dirty before you have to leave, half way through, without finishing what you started out and feeling like something has not been completed. The therapist might be left gasping and glowing with satisfaction, but essentially if this was sex you’d be faking your orgasm and walking out with your head held high and having to wait till next week when you get to do the same old frustrating exercise all over again.
If the session was 2 hours long, I might start to feel as though the earth had moved for me as well. It would be wonderful if you could just radiate in the afterglow of the warm therapeutic space that had been created by the two of you, but after 45 – 60 minutes it’s time for you to get out still feeling hot and bothered (and for the next client to come in cold) all the time brooding and ruminating that the earth might just move for them in a way it did not for you.
Ahh, the Erotic Transference! The question is do we want to have sex with our therapist because of a deep-seated oedipal complex, primary attachment gone tragically awry, a pre-verbal object relationship that cannot be unified or do we simply want to shag an attractive, empathic person who sets our genitals on fire?
Much psychological literature is written by Sheldon Cooper types (The Big Bang Theory) who are socially autistic or have Asperger’s syndrome and are desperately trying to quantify the unquantifiable by using terms such as “erotic transference” instead of “lust or love” because by using wholly scientific terms it distances themselves from their own primal and lustful urges. That is why Amy Farrah Fowler (Sheldon’s girlfriend) cannot understand these sinful longings she gets when she is around men. It greatly distresses and frustrates her.
Admitting you have sexual feelings for your therapist to your therapist can create shame and disgust. We are all sexual beings, it’s how we relate beneath the superficial veneer of expected manners and mores of society.
At last, someone who is giving Borderline Personality Disorder a new image, a new spin, a positive focus and dispelling all of the myths surrounding this socially constructed disorder. Thank you, Marsha Linehan, for coming out of the closet. What a breath of fresh air you are!
I have read Marsha’s book on Dialectical Behavioural Therapy and since then I have been recommending this type of one on one therapy, based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, radical acceptance, Buddhist meditative practice and mindfulness with the adjunct of group therapy and inter-session therapist phone-calls, to many people. It proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is life beyond this subjective, patronizing, ineffective, degrading and destructive diagnosis, generally given out by the psychiatric industry.
Ever since I can remember I have had major issues with food. This was not a problem till I was ten and my mother told me I was going on a diet. I promptly went to the shops and bought a bag of lollies.
By the time I was fifteen I was medically obese, then I discovered bulimia for a short while. At 22 I revisited bulimia with its partner in crime laxatives, lost and regained half my body weight within two years. I went up and down for the next twelve years and developed type 2 diabetes. Then the lap band was invented and over the next ten years had two lap bands installed, followed by numerous cosmetic surgeries, and two lap bands removed due to slippage and erosion.
This was followed by several hospital stays for abdominal pain resulting in a small bowel obstruction operation. My pancreas died completely and I was now insulin dependent and whenever I moved my insides swirled around like a sack of goldfish and I regained back half my body weight.
There is a secret society of women who have discovered there’s more to life than getting their lazy teenage daughters to tidy their rooms, or their procrastinating husbands to change the washer on that dripping tap. Who recognize that there’s more to Me Time than getting up early to sweat it out to Aerobics Oz Style.
All harassed, overworked and underpaid mothers should be let in on this secret. The one that stops targetless anger threatening the harmony of the family, that makes mother feel good, gives her a healthy inner glow and even promotes weight loss.
Have you guessed it yet? Well, here’s a clue. Once you’ve outlaid the money for some decent hardware, it’ll cost you virtually nothing for the rest of your life – except for the price of the batteries.
Over the past few months your therapist has put on weight. All around her middle. In the back of your mind you are thinking, “For goodness sake, go on a diet, and get some exercise.” At the rear end of the back of your mind an idea is forming that is so reprehensible it gets snapped shut before its presence is fully comprehended. For some even when your therapist is nine months pregnant it is possible not to acknowledge what is blindingly obvious. Your therapist is about to have a baby very soon and it’s not you.
My therapist had children before I started seeing her so it has not been an issue for me. What was an issue was when she got a pair of dogs and I thought they were getting more attention than I was. And I was right; they are a pair of pampered pooches. Thank goodness she was never pregnant when I was a client. I would not have handled it well.
Is there ever a good time to have sex with your therapist?
According to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in Australia who noted that ”in some circumstances, it may be appropriate for a psychologist to have a personal and sexual relationship with an ex-client,” but that it should not start until at least two years after therapy ends.
However, in the case of one particular transgressing psychologist, it wasn’t two years and the client wasn’t a fully consenting adult, he was a brain-damaged sex killer on parole. Apparently this makes no difference.
Warning – contains spoilers for Season One of In Treatment.
I have just finished watching Season One of In Treatment, and I have some very mixed feelings about some of the so-called therapy that Paul dishes out to Laura. Therapy sex is an absolute no-no, and the fact that Paul can’t get it up and has an anxiety attack trying to do so doesn’t make it any less unethical, immoral and completely illegal. The therapist who sexualizes his clients, no matter what the provocation (and Laura is a very seductive erotically-transferred client) is committing a crime.
M. Scott Peck, author of The Road Less Traveled, said that if he thought it would benefit his clients, he would sleep with them. But the cure is not through sex, it’s through relationship. The power differential between therapist and client is always there — even after therapy has essentially finished; and no amount of time will ever resolve the fact that one person has major power over the other.
I know sexual feelings, on the part of the client, is not unusual. I am a female heterosexual, who has never had a lesbian affair, having therapy with a female heterosexual therapist, yet sexual feelings (only on my part) arose in my therapy about six years ago. It freaked me out considerably. I was able, after a few years, to raise the subject in the context of “fluid sexuality” that most human beings — even my therapist — experience on a continuum, with heterosexuality on one pole and homosexuality at the opposite end. It is normal for most people to have feelings for the same sex on a sliding scale.