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February 15, 2011 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I have a crush on my therapist. My therapist has a crush on me. Now what?

I have been working with the same therapist for a couple of years now. She has been extremely beneficial for my well-being, and through our work I've learned to take care of myself so much more. In fact, I'd say that my life is better than it's ever been because of my experiences in therapy.

Since the beginning, I have been vaguely conscious of a sexual attraction to my therapist. That attraction has only intensified with time. During a recent session this came up and my therapist admitted that the attraction was mutual -- she felt similarly about me. Naturally, this further intensified my feelings, and now I feel more strongly about her than ever.

I've mentioned this situation casually to a couple of friends, and they have been horrified. "You need to get a new therapist!" "You and your therapist are in love!" "I can't believe she hasn't stopped this!"

Now I'm feeling really unsure about the whole situation. My therapist has no intention of sleeping with me (we don't even touch, ever) and I think we'll discover really important, healing things through discussing this attraction. But this is so different from any therapeutic experience I've had before, and I'm a little afraid of getting hurt.

Is what we're entering into safe? Is it a valid form of treatment? Am I overreacting? Should I just go with it and see where it leads me?

Additional back story: the therapy has always been very psychodynamic. My therapist recommended I read Glen O. Gabbard for more insight but I'm not sure where to start. We are both gay women. Throwaway email:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (38 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Objectivity is a touchstone for therapists. You can care and still be objective. Objective does not mean distant, but it does mean that one sees clearly what one observes.

Perhaps one of the most central themes of infatuation, crushes, and the like is that you are unable to be truly objective about that person (and that this subjectivity takes a particular direction.)

The two are antithetical.
posted by adipocere at 10:59 AM on February 15, 2011

You're not thinking about this clearly. Get a new therapist, and maybe date your old one if you like.
posted by Electrius at 10:59 AM on February 15, 2011 [14 favorites]

People fall in love in all sorts of weird situations. If you guys want to be together, you need to stop the professional relationship ASAP. The fact that you have both already admitted your crushes means the professional relationship has been severely broken, and you need to stop the professional relationship ASAP. Stop the professional relationship now, wait a few months, see if you can reconnect on a different level.
posted by katypickle at 11:00 AM on February 15, 2011 [30 favorites]

The therapist is likely hoping to use the dynamics of the crushes to help you. I'd not bet on getting together. At all.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:02 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Fire your therapist. Then ask her out. To do this any other way is just asking to get either your psyche or your therapist in big, big trouble. Good luck.
posted by Night_owl at 11:03 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Get a new therapist, preferably one with no professional association with your current therapist and then there's nothing stopping you from holding back those feelings any longer.
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:03 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

The fact that she decided to tell you she's attracted to you is setting off really loud klaxons in my head.

Part of the whole point of therapy, as opposed to just talking to your friends or your SO, is to have a safe, supportive, but ultimately professional environment where you can talk about things in a way that isn't appropriate elsewhere -- you can say things to your therapist you could never say to the other people in your life, in part because your therapist is completely separate from your personal life.

Obviously the boundaries between personal and professional are breaking down in this case. Listen to your friends.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:04 AM on February 15, 2011 [17 favorites]

You don't ever touch, and your therapist has no intention of sleeping with you--but she did respond favorably and indicate a mutual attraction when you mentioned how you felt about her.

And then what?

Did she say, "But it would be unethical for us to even consider a sexual involvement" or did she just let it slide? Did she suggest that, given the feelings you BOTH have, you should consider another therapist?

I think an ethical therapist would have done at least one of these things.

Please understand that what you are feeling is completely normal, and in fact very common. Transference is an accepted phenomenon among patients and their therapists.

But what has your friends so worried is a valid concern for your well-being now that your therapist has indicated she feels the same way. The admission itself is on questionable ethical footing. As intimate as the relationship between you and your therapist feels, with you pouring out your heart and soul every visit, that relationship is supposed to really only go one way. You put all your cards on the table, and she stays objective and takes a clinical approach to help you find your way through your troubles.

Once your therapist becomes emotionally or sexually affected, she cannot be as objective, her clinical advice becomes questionable at best, and you are incredibly vulnerable to her influence. The potential for hurt is so great here that my personal recommendation would be that you find another therapist and avoid her for several months until you are on more equal footing. If you then wanted to pursue a relationship with her, it should be at your instigation and after due deliberation as someone NOT her patient.

Even though you say you do not see your therapist agreeing to have sex with you, your post strongly suggests you want to, badly. Again, that's not surprising. But her reaction really raises red flags for me, as it did with your friends. As someone who was once sexually assaulted by a therapist and was very shaken by the experience even after escaping the office, I am concerned for you. Tread very, very carefully here.
posted by misha at 11:12 AM on February 15, 2011 [12 favorites]

Are you sure this isn't transference? She's helping you, you're feeling comfort from your relationship with her, you have a safe harbor when in your sessions. You should not assume that this would be the case if you two were to be together.
I agree with those upthread who say that the professional relationship needs to end immediately. It was kind of irresponsible of her to admit to being attracted to you. You pay her, after all.
posted by Gilbert at 11:12 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Did your therapist say that she's attracted to you, or that she has a crush on you/wants to be with you? Because those are two extremely ultra-different things. One can maintain objectivity about a person and have a professional relationship even if one is attracted to that person. I personally question why she feels the need to tell you about it, and am not sure that zeroing in on it in session would be particularly useful for either of you.

But I would be really careful about jumping to conclusions about what your therapist said vs. what you heard.
posted by Sara C. at 11:15 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think your therapist was ethically careless in letting you know she returns your feelings. The therapist has to remain opaque emotionally to whatever extent she can, because your cure hinges on her objectivity. Talking about her feelings put the spotlight inappropriately on her.

First, your feelings are normal. It's sometimes called transference. The phenom of a therapist having intense feelings for a client is also, normal - countertransference. Most therapists are schooled in how to deal with both transference (the client's projection of loving feelings onto the therapist), and their own countertransference reactions. It's natural for your therapist to have the feelings, but she shouldn't be talking about them to you.

You should read up on transference and countertransference, and then come to your next session armed with some knowledge. Phrase it like you want to know more. That shows her you're trying to keep things professional, and that you're interested in your own recovery rather than an expoloration of romantic feelings between you. It is ALWAYS perfectly okay to discuss these things with your therapist. They're trained in how to deal with this. Remember, YOU can do anything (except physically assault your therapist) that you want to do in session. No topic is off limits, and in fact it would be unhelpful if you didn't bring up your feelings. So you did good!

If she's a good therapist, she'll take your lead here. And one error like this doesn't mean she's a bad therapist. But you'll need to see where she goes with this. If she brings up her attraction to you again, it's a red flag.

A good place to go for these kinds of things is The psychotherapy forum has been really informative and supportive for me when I've had similar issues with my own therapist. Good luck!
posted by frosty_hut at 11:15 AM on February 15, 2011 [6 favorites]

Yeah, coming from a person (me) whose therapist crossed a couple boundaries, get a new therapist. ASAP. (Not dating or a crush, or anything. She very much wanted to be my friend. And then tried to hunt me down when I moved on and found a new one.)

If, after a couple months, you still feel this way, ask her out? I'm not actually sure. I honestly don't know. I would personally be weirded out if I started dating a dude who knew extremely intimate, scary things about me—but I didn't know anything about him. Except that he would confess a crush to a patient. Nein, no, uh-uh, non.
posted by functionequalsform at 11:18 AM on February 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'm going to disagree with the folks above and say you should keep your therapist for now, and discuss this with her. Tell her it's setting alarm bells off for lots of people who care about you, and why. Discuss whether you'd be willing to transfer to another therapist, or whether you think you should. Your therapist crossed a line, but she may have done so intentionally with both your personal relationship and professional relationship in mind.

Ask her what crushing means to her, talk about what it means to you. Keep in mind that you May Well need to get a new therapist, but that depends on whether a deeper personal relationship might happen between you two - pursuing one is a choice you both can decide to make (or not).
posted by ldthomps at 11:19 AM on February 15, 2011

It's not really appropriate for a therapist to share that information with you. That's why *she* should have a therapist. But since she has been, on balance, very successful, perhaps you and she should talk about establishing better boundaries.
posted by theora55 at 11:34 AM on February 15, 2011

I think the appropriate starting place is to discuss how this should proceed on an ethical level.

As for the reading suggestion, Gabbard's work looks like the sort of thing that is aimed at educating therapists, not clients. "I shouldn't have to educate you, please go inform yourself about these issues" is appropriate in a lot of cases when people of unequal social standing or differing experience are discussing issues of power and privilege. I don't think that's quite as acceptable in a context where you pay your therapist to provide professional insight into the process and the issues that may arise. Since your therapist hasn't explicitly provided guidance on what to read out of his body of work-- which is extensive-- it doesn't sound like she has an interest in guiding your exploration of how attraction changes the therapeutic process. I don't know your own background-- are you, yourself, a mental health caregiver? Would you have the training and experience necessary to derive full benefit from a cold reading of a text intended for working professionals in the field? If not, I would question her as to what benefit she thinks you would derive from this material.

Also, I would start trying to inquire with your state or region's professional licensing authority about your therapist's background. Are you the only patient who has experienced this issue in your process? Does she have a prior record of similar attractions and approaches to her clients? You need to know if this is a pattern for her; if it is, it's a sign that her clinical detachment is ethically compromised and that your emotional safety could be imperiled.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:42 AM on February 15, 2011

I think your therapist was ethically careless in letting you know she returns your feelings.

Therapists make mistakes. This was a sizable one.

None of us are in a position to say whether it will critically undermine her effectiveness as a therapist for you. But the fact that you wanted to consult with us about it is sufficient proof that the situation is a serious and as-yet unresolved distraction in your therapy.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:42 AM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mod note: From the OP:
My therapist and I hooking up is totally a no-go. She's been very clear from the beginning that such a situation would be (1) very bad for me and (2) totally unethical professionally, and I agree with her. That doesn't really stop me from feeling what I'm feeling, though.

I guess I want to know if anyone's ever heard of a situation like this panning out, or something else of similar intensity. I am familiar with transference and countertransference; I've taken classes on psychodynamic therapy and read the accompanying texts. Thank you for all your help -- I mean it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:44 AM on February 15, 2011

Refer to the "Laura" storyline on the HBO show "In Treatment." Not a good idea to go out with someone who knows you intimately, but about which you know very little.
posted by marcin_zissou at 11:48 AM on February 15, 2011

I am a therapist. I would voluntarily discontinue work with a client if I felt any kind of romantic/sexual attraction to them, because it would certainly cloud my objectivity and reduce my effectiveness as a clinician. I would NOT EVER tell a client I was romantically or sexually attracted to them, as in my view, it very much violates professional boundaries and would likely just incite a lot of confusing feelings/thoughts/experiences about the therapeutic relationship (and I would assume that my disclosure of something like that could have an effect on the client's future ability to healthily and effectively join with other therapists). I obviously don't speak for all therapists, but this is my (and many others') interpretation of professional ethics as they are dictated.
posted by so_gracefully at 11:52 AM on February 15, 2011 [18 favorites]

For you to feel attracted to your therapist and discuss this attraction as part of the therapeutic process -- normal and good. For her to acknowledge her attraction to you -- weird and inappropriate. Your therapy is the place for talking about your feelings, not hers.

IANAMHP (mental health practitioner), but it seems like the presence of her attraction would transform your interaction from potentially illuminating conscious transference into some weird ambiguous realm of denied and suppressed emotion.

Everybody knows how mutual attraction charges the air and clouds the mind. Do you really want to be sitting there with your therapist, both of you blushing and with racing pulses and thinking erotic thoughts about each other?

I would tell her that this makes you uncomfortable and start looking for a new therapist. Please wait at least six months before even considering dating her. But personally, I would not date someone who transgresses an important boundary like this.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:55 AM on February 15, 2011

There's a world of difference between "I find you attractive, but that doesn't mean I'm going to do anything about it" and "I am attracted to you right now, and only self-control is stopping me from jumping on you."

From what you're saying anon, it sounds like the former rather than the latter.
posted by pharm at 11:56 AM on February 15, 2011

Legally speaking, you pretty much can't act on this with her. (I come by this knowledge because (a) a friend of mine has crushes on her shrinks on a regular basis and looked this shit up, and (b) asked my own for confirmation.) The rules are that you would have to stop seeing the shrink (at all, whatsoever, even after you've stopped therapy) for several years before you start dating. If you date before then, your therapist could lose her license.

We'll see if this link works, but I'll c n' p just in case:

10.08 Sexual Intimacies with Former Therapy Clients/Patients
(a) Psychologists do not engage in sexual intimacies with former clients/patients for at least two years after cessation or termination of therapy.

(b) Psychologists do not engage in sexual intimacies with former clients/patients even after a two-year interval except in the most unusual circumstances. Psychologists who engage in such activity after the two years following cessation or termination of therapy and of having no sexual contact with the former client/patient bear the burden of demonstrating that there has been no exploitation, in light of all relevant factors, including (1) the amount of time that has passed since therapy terminated; (2) the nature, duration, and intensity of the therapy; (3) the circumstances of termination; (4) the client's/patient's personal history; (5) the client's/patient's current mental status; (6) the likelihood of adverse impact on the client/patient; and (7) any statements or actions made by the therapist during the course of therapy suggesting or inviting the possibility of a posttermination sexual or romantic relationship with the client/patient.

You need to stop seeing her, whether you date in 2-3 years or not, though. This is just not good for anybody.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:59 AM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

Ack ack boundaries ack. Fine advice upthread, but here is some more recommended reading. I happened to pick up that book when I started psychodynamic therapy; it was weird and unsettling at first, but ultimately super helpful for getting my head around how therapeutic relationships are meant to work.
posted by clavicle at 12:00 PM on February 15, 2011

I think this is likely transference and countertransference. I think the transference isn't a problem at all - it's common and therapists are trained to deal with it. I had a crush on a therapist, we talked about it, she was very professional, and everything was fine.

I don't actually see her admitting the countertransference to you as necessarily being a problem. She may have decided that you two can talk about it and it will be helpful to you. Since you've had positive experiences with her, and since she has been very clear that she intends to act ethically (no dating) and has clear boundaries, I would give her the benefit of the doubt that she thought carefully about whether to admit her attraction to you. She may have decided that discussing it with you would be therapeutically beneficial.

I would talk to her more about it - ask her why did she thought it was best to tell you. Share your fears of getting hurt, and ask her how she plans to work through this with you.

It sounds to me that you may have an excellent therapist who intends to really help you work through this.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:01 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would ask her if she'd be willing to have a colleague look things over, talk to you, and provide her with a consultation about the way to proceed.

Alternatively, you could seek a second opinion individually.

Using this in therapy is complex stuff and she (and you) need outside objective opinion(s) about how to work this into therapy, and whether it's even possible/desirable.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:01 PM on February 15, 2011

Oh, man. I have been in your situation and I have very mixed feelings about it to this day. What follows may be a little disjointed, but I’ll do my best to give you a sense of how things worked out for me. I saw my therapist for 2.5 years, and 2 months in I admitted that I was attracted to him, in a letter that I gave him at the end of session one day. At the time I was seeing him two or three times a week and we had already developed a very close therapeutic relationship. We had a very good rapport naturally—similar senses of humor, similar worldviews, similar interests to some extent. He was extremely intelligent and very warm and I was quite drawn to him from the start. He was a relational analyst, so a lot of the work we did centered around the relationship we had with each other and I think this created a certain intimacy that was very provocative.

In any case, after I admitted my attraction, he told me that he was attracted to me, too, and that he was hesitant to admit it but that on reflection he thought it could be helpful therapeutically. He was very clear that nothing would ever happen between us and in fact we never touched at all—we didn’t even shake hands when we eventually terminated. In that sense, he never crossed the line (thank god; it would have destroyed me). But, of course, things are more complicated than that. Knowing that he was attracted to me was beneficial to me in a way because I’d always had trouble believing that the sort of men I was attracted to could ever be interested in me. It was very validating and I do think it improved my self-confidence. It also made me trust him more, knowing that he had disclosed something so personal, and I think in some very broad and far-reaching sense it changed the way I think about other people and their feelings. Maybe I became more sensitive to their vulnerabilities, or something like that. All this allowed me to open up to him about all kinds of other things that I needed to work on, and we accomplished a lot together. But, God, the attraction was frustrating, and it kind of ended up distracting me from my real romantic relationship with my (now ex) boyfriend. I compared the two of them constantly and it was damaging. The worst part about it all, though, was that when I did have to stop seeing him (for financial reasons), the loss was utterly devastating because frankly we had just become TOO close, in large part due to the mutual attraction and all the discussion thereof. It has been several months and I am still not over it. I miss him the way I’d miss a lover.

My advice to you would be to proceed carefully. I don’t necessarily think that your therapist is being unprofessional, but it is her job to make sure that everything you do in therapy is for the purpose of advancing the treatment. Sometimes disclosing an attraction can do this but it will be a fine line to walk, for both of you. Send me a message if you’d like to talk about this more; I’m happy to go on about it at length (as you can see).
posted by ashotinthearm at 12:22 PM on February 15, 2011 [3 favorites]

If your words 'my therapist has no intention of sleeping with me' mean that she has stated firmly that anything other than therapy is out of bounds, that doesn't feel unethical.

It could be very positive; I've had a number of valuable platonic and/or work friendships where mutual attraction existed, was acknowledged, and agreed to be off limits. Once out in the open it rarely came up again; rather, the mutual respect for each other's autonomy and external considerations ended up as a solid foundation of trust. Romantic/sexual feelings went back to the level of vague awareness rather than being a distraction, and any flirting was occasional and purely humorous rather than being sexually charged. Although I consider myself a quite sexual person, any time I've made a decision like that I've found it easy to stick to. Your mileage may vary, not least because I have a ready-made cultural framework as a straight man to support decisions like that with relatively little effort.

I've also had a couple of good long-term therapy friendships, which were very open in both directions. but the thing about a therapeutic relationship is that ultimately you are the receiver of the therapist's efforts. Without disagreeing with others' comments above about professional responsibility and the possibility of undue influence, it's also true that you wield significant power as a client. Therapists can't easily 'fire a client' on a whim (not ethically, anyway), are accountable to their professional body if complaints are lodged against them, and can't abandon other clients in the afternoon even if they have an unusual emotional experience in the morning. And in the most basic sense, a therapist generally does not get to start telling the client about the therapist's really bad day and how many problems s/he is dealing with: you're there to benefit, the therapist is there to assist you. In my view (a totally amateur and personal one, and as a general matter rather than specifically about you, OP) the risk of a therapeutic relationship becoming abusive or unhealthy runs in both directions.

So ultimately this comes down to what kind of feelings you have to deal with. If your therapist doesn't expand on or reiterate expressions of attraction, then whatever feelings she may have are not your problem. She's trained to deal with such matters, and for all you know she has her own therapist to help her deal with any ethical/emotional stress situations. If you can explore your feelings but keep them firmly in the abstract then great. But if you find yourself dreaming or choosing to fantasize about the therapist on a regular basis it's going to create problems for both of you. Of course, having a sexual thought about someone doesn't mean you've fallen off a cliff of no return; if the attraction built up over time then it's almost bound to take a little time to die down. Only you can judge whether you feel like you're clinging to a peak or not.

It's difficult to tell whether your attraction is mainly physical, or the product of intimacy on your part by having a safe place to explore your mind freely, or some abstract thing which is a function of the situation rather than a person - an erotic attachment to being on a couch, so to speak. Maybe they're just feelings that you haven't been able to easily act on in other parts of your life, and the next step is to get comfortable with them outside of a therapeutic context. As long as your therapist is straightforward with you about boundaries and when/how a referral to another counselor or a temporary break would work, I'd say you can play it by ear. You give off an air of being in therapy to develop yourself rather than to get out from under something awful, so as long as you feel comfortable about having the decision power I feel it will work out fine. Again, this is a purely amateur and personal feeling, based on a subjective interpretation of what you were saying. If any of this doesn't seem to apply to your case, then I'm likely completely wrong!
posted by anigbrowl at 12:22 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think it would be a good idea for you to consult another therapist about it, without telling them who your current therapist is. When you see the new person, make sure to tell them just how the conversation went, instead of giving your interpretation -- if you just summarize it, the counselor may put their own interpretation on it or assume things that aren't exactly correct. You should be able to talk freely about your positive and negative feelings. (Example of mis-interpretation: When I left one psychiatrist, the new one was wery cautious until I quoted a conversation verbatim to make it clear that Doctor A had actually recommended that I see Doctor B.)

Therapy is supposed to be about you, what you need, what's best for you. Your current therapist can have only one relationship with you -- the therapeutic relationship. And anyone you consult should move beyond a professional opinion on what's right or wrong, to help you gain perspective and make decisions.
posted by wryly at 12:45 PM on February 15, 2011


1) Fire your therapist.
2) Get a new therapist (perhaps of the gender you are not attracted)
3) Date new therapist and hope she doesnt use your secrets against you!

Date your therapist, live a little, make a mess, life is not all neatly wrapped in some gift-wrap.
posted by The1andonly at 1:19 PM on February 15, 2011

Why not start dating her and find a new therapist? I see nothing wrong with that. You already have a wonderful, understanding, healing relationship -- no reason you shouldn't take that further and turn that into a romantic one. But yeah, at that point, she becomes pretty useless as a therapist, so if you still want to see a therapist I'd say yeah, get a different one. And if she's bothered by this, then there's something wrong with her.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:24 PM on February 15, 2011

oops, just saw the update. n/m
posted by Afroblanco at 1:25 PM on February 15, 2011

I work in a different professional field (law) and we have similar rules about relationships with clients and for the same basic reasons--susceptibility of the client/patient to undue influence, and the potential lack of objectivity leading to incompetence and/or professional negligence. That said, I know more than one attorney who has ended up dating a former client, with mixed but not horrible results.

What I suspect OP means is not generally for outcomes, but outcomes that might be relevant to someone in OP's spot, which is impossible to answer without detailed knowledge concerning the therapist-patient relationship and the issues for which OP has sought counseling. Maybe OP should consider seeking the advice of another professional, describe the therapeutic circumstances sans names, and solicit advice on whether this development is useful to OP in therapy or whether OP would benefit more from seeing a new (third) therapist. That way, at least OP can make an informed decision about whether to terminate an otherwise helpful professional relationship.
posted by Hylas at 1:37 PM on February 15, 2011

To all people suggesting OP gets a new therapist and dates the old therapist, keep in mind that if the therapist is a psychologist, she will have to wait 2 years until she can date him, or risk having a colleague report her and get her license revoked. And there are many people who see absolutely no exceptions to this rule, and would do that. I'm not familiar with the rules for psychiatrists, MFTs, MSWs, etc.
posted by namesarehard at 1:41 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Your therapist sounds very unprofessional. As soon as she admitted she was mutually attracted to you, it stopped being therapy and started being paid flirting. Her goals (for *herself*, as she's now put herself into your interactions) are different now, and she can't help you in the way that an objective therapist could. Please stop seeing this person.
posted by FlyByDay at 1:53 PM on February 15, 2011

"During a recent session" you say. How recent? You seem concerned about it but I'm not sure exactly why. Are you discussing these concerns with your therapist? Or just with us? Unlike the majority of those posting above me, I don't necessarily see this as a problem.

I am a therapist, but not yours. I am going to assume (based only on what you said, though it's not exactly objective evidence) that your therapist is competent and knows what she's doing. If you are attracted to someone and you feel it's mutual but they deny it, it is (technical term) crazy-making. It tells you that your correct intuition is faulty. Her choices, besides and in addition to exploring what you feel, etc., is either to decline to say whether she is attracted to you, because (in her opinion) it would not be helpful to know this about her, or else to admit it. In the later case, she would be validating your intuition (or correcting it, if you felt otherwise) and telling you that you can be attractive to someone like her. One may be attracted to many people and it doesn't mean one needs to drop everything and act on it each time. One may also be attracted one day and not the next. It needn't be a big deal. Again I am assuming she knows what she's doing and is more interested in acting on what she thinks is beneficial to you therapeutically than in pursuing her attraction and that she isn't (as so gracefully said above would happen with her) so distracted by this that it would cloud her judgment.

So, what now? Voice all your concerns. Then voice the new ones that arise in response to what occurs then. Many things can happen. You can resent that she won't act on it. You can be relieved that you don't have to. You can be "rejected" and tolerate it. You can decide that you find it too confusing and don't want to be in therapy with her any more. (This doesn't mean you necessarily have to leave for it may just be a mask for your resentment of her for not acting on it.)

To those who say "quit and ask her out," I believe she should refuse to go out with you because she still has a therapeutic relationship with you even once you've quit.
posted by Obscure Reference at 1:57 PM on February 15, 2011 [5 favorites]

FWIW, and yeah, I'll be random outlyer guy, my sister in law is a therapist who married one of her patients and both are happy as clams. This was not in the USA, so your local normative behavior will (obviously) differ.

Anyway, this probably doesn't help, but in the real world things aren't always so black and white. Being happy is more important than being right.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:40 PM on February 15, 2011

Life isn't always black and white, but I would never date someone who was my therapist if for no other reason than that if she is unable to maintain boundaries with me, then she almost certainly might have slippery boundaries with other people/processes.
posted by analog at 8:23 PM on February 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

My personal squick factor would be the number of things my therapist knows about me that literally nobody else in my entire life knows. I have said things in that room that I could never say aloud to anybody else, ever. Which in my opinion is half the point of being in therapy in the first place.
posted by Sara C. at 8:28 PM on February 15, 2011

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