Help! I Can’t Stop Thinking about My Therapist

I have been seeing my therapist for four years. I really like my therapist, and she has been helping me a lot. The problem is, I think about her 24/7. What she is doing, etc. I look for her or her car every time I go out to a restaurant, etc. The attachment is NOT erotic. I know she is married and I do not want to have sex with her (I am female, by the way). How do I get her out of my head except when I'm in therapy? —Obsessed
Dear Obsessed,

Although I can’t know what is happening in your therapy and how this may pertain to your question, clearly this is an important issue, and I hope you will discuss it directly with your therapist. I can understand that perhaps you feel reluctant to bring it up, but the ensuing conversation might be very helpful, and it could move the work you are doing together toward a deeper understanding of your relationship with her and, most importantly, with yourself.

Any emotional reaction, especially one as pervasive as what you describe, contains clues that you want to identify and investigate. For example, at some stages of development obsession is quite natural, and your obsession might be pointing toward a difficult time in your life that needs work. Young children, for example, are obsessed with their caregivers, often their mothers. If this is the root of your issue, you might learn that there was a difficult experience in your childhood that needs to be looked at. Maybe when you were very young, a toddler or a baby, you had fears that your mother or another important person in your life might leave you, never to return—that you might be abandoned. Perhaps you did in fact lose someone you loved. Teenagers, even adults, are sometimes obsessed with someone they see as a role model. They are obsessed because that person is someone they want to be and knows things they need to learn.

An interesting aspect of therapy is an experience called “transference.” Transference means that the feelings you have for someone important in your life are unconsciously transferred to another person—in this case the therapist. We all have feelings like that; it’s quite normal. For example, people at work often relate to the boss as if the boss was their father or mother, and they might not even know it. Or your irresponsible coworker might remind you of your younger brother or sister. It’s helpful when we become aware of such feelings and then take care to recognize and correct them rather than simply reacting. Therapy can help you do that.

Let’s talk about therapy, some of its general goals, and how they may apply to your situation.

  1. Speak your mind to your therapist, without concern for feeling silly, looking stupid, being insulting, or whatever worries tend to stop you from speaking up. Honesty makes for a strong therapeutic relationship.
  2. There are many different kinds of obsessions—obsession with the Internet, with sports, with movie stars, with teachers, even with one’s therapist. A therapist, after all, is someone who is trying to help. It makes sense that we become attached to kind and helpful people. Who wouldn’t? Maybe, for you, this is a rare experience of being truly understood, you can’t quite believe it’s real, and you don’t want to let it go.
  3. The love and gratitude we feel when we are accepted and understood is boundless. Certainly, I feel greatly attached to my teachers, mentors, and therapists. The thought that these connections are partly real and partly transference is kind of sad. “What,” I might think, “you mean this isn’t real?”
  4. It is real, the feelings are real, but they are not to be acted on—they are to be explored with words only. These feelings and the therapeutic relationship are on a different and special plane, apart from the everyday world in certain ways. That is the tragedy, glory, and power of any deep therapeutic relationship.

How lovely that you have such strong feelings about your therapist. It means that you have been reached at a deep level, which has given you and your therapist a strong energic ground from which to proceed.

I hope this has been helpful. Please let me know what you think. Take care!

Respectfully,
Lynn

Lynn Somerstein
Lynn Somerstein, PhD, NCPsyA, C-IAYT is a Manhattan-based, licensed psychotherapist with more than 30 years in private practice. She is also a yoga teacher and student of Ayuveda—the Indian science of wellness. Her main interest is in helping people find healthy ways of living, loving, and working in the particular combination that works best for them, connecting to their deepest energic source so their full range of abilities can be expressed. Lynn's specialty is understanding and alleviating anxiety and depression.
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  • Robert

    Robert

    November 21st, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    I am only guessing but my thoughts are that you feel this way because of the profound impact that this person has had on your life. You want her to be a part of that life even though you know that you have to keep it on a professional level. It could be time to cut back on your visits to her but I would at least have a conversation with her about what is going on so that she can give you some thoughts into the matter and show you how this either means that you are making progress in your life or how you still need help coping with certain issues.

  • Genevieve

    Genevieve

    November 21st, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    I know that if you are like me then I would be mortified to admit this to someone but at the same time it really does seem like that would be the safest thing to do in your situation.

  • candi I.

    candi I.

    November 22nd, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    maybe it isn’t such a bad thing if you never choose to act on any of it…

  • Bryan

    Bryan

    November 24th, 2014 at 3:56 AM

    Do you even want to risk sharing this with your therapist? This could be someone who could easily freak out about this and could then terminate you as a patient. I don’t think that this would happen but they have to look out for their own safety and well-being too and if they think that they or their family could be in danger then it makes sense that they would want to cut ties with you.

  • Liesa

    Liesa

    December 1st, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    I think my therapist tried to speak about my transference. It was the most awkward exp of my life. Physical discomfort isn’t part of therapy. But he thought it would help. Or maybe he was angry, HE didn’t expect transference from me. Sometimes no one knows it can happen. So he makes me feel bad. I went back for another session which was to be an apology. I still wonder why he brought up thinks sexual for no reason at all. Obvious that he has a 2 track mind. His fave subjects: money and sex. I’m reminded of him too often cause he said so many details of his life. Would love to finally figure out how to let it all go. Classic example of someone faking nice and caring

  • Lynn Somerstein

    Lynn Somerstein

    December 2nd, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Dear Liesa,
    Sorry that your experience didn’t work out. Perhaps you could try again.
    Good luck,
    Take care,
    Lynn

  • Sheila S.

    Sheila S.

    June 24th, 2015 at 8:23 AM

    I am also in love with my therapist but she is a woman…I have cyber stalked her on the web, created a facebook account to try and “friend” her (unsuccessful), look for images of her son and generally obsess about her.

    Have I gone overboard and need help with this aspect of my treatment?
    Thanks

  • Lynn Somerstein

    Lynn Somerstein

    June 24th, 2015 at 4:53 PM

    Hi Sheila,
    This is exactly the kind of thing you should talk about with your therapist.
    Thanks for asking!
    Take care,
    Lynn

  • clarity

    clarity

    August 17th, 2015 at 11:58 AM

    I also had a strong obsession for my therapist lately and all I would think 24/7was her n how great she is n beautiful n then I’d remember every detail of the therapy session… could even hear her voice in my head..no kidding… n then it became too much I wanted to talk to her about it but she wasn’t available at that time so we had to reschedule but I was somehow ashamed of telling her so I decidedto try and solve the obsesssion on my own…I just wrote about it in my diary severally and it faded with tym though I relapse sometimes

  • Jo

    Jo

    September 17th, 2015 at 1:41 AM

    I found this subject really interesting. I too think of my therapist 24/7. I liked the reply very much & reiterates to me just how effective my therapy & therapist really is. I talk about my transference feeling with him all the time. I call & refer to him as my ‘Transference Dad’ he’s explained fully the transference with me & to be really honest, I love the transference & don’t ever want it to end! I have the best therapist in the world.

  • Susan

    Susan

    July 23rd, 2016 at 5:21 PM

    I recently did counseling sessions at the Wellness Center at my school. I’m not obsessed 24/7, but I think about her on and off, and when I do, I suddenly feel so good. In the middle of my work, I suddenly feel good! Or even when I take a break at the beach. I feel so honored that she listens to me, and this week I’ve felt the most amazing excitement somewhere deep in my belly every time I thought of her. I haven’t felt this ever, I don’t think. I wondered if it is excitement that she thinks I’m worth helping? I’ve had issues with entitlement (as in I don’t feel entitled to anything) which I worked at for many years with a different therapist. I think I’m excited that she helps me because I feel she doesn’t see me as lower class, or ‘below’ her…I’m just a student who has problems that she is good at helping with, and it feels so good to have confidence in her. It’s a little difficult to describe. Anyway, the reason I found this article is that I searched ‘obsessed with therapist’. This is because In the most recent session, I noticed that I was trying to show her my feathers, my achievements, almost like I was showing off to a potential mate. But I don’t know if I feel sexual attraction to her. Maybe? I know that I like getting attention from her, and I want the sessions to last longer and wish they didn’t end. And I felt incredibly sad the other day because the program is structured so that students have 5 sessions. So they will be ending soon, and I was sad about that. I like feeling so motivated to do my work, and I like thinking about what we talked about when I’m doing my work. I also like thinking about what I’ll say when I report my progress to her at the next session. Whatever is happening, I feel it’s positive, but I was concerned that I was showing off for her. I think I must be very hungry for female attention or something?, because the good feelings are so strong, but when I look at her, I don’t feel attracted necessarily (although she’s very pretty!), I just don’t desire a physical relationship with her. It’s a confusing thing for me.

  • Vincent

    Vincent

    August 1st, 2018 at 6:19 AM

    Now with the online world it is easy to speak with therapists daily. I found myself attached to my therapist because she was like a friend who walked me through some of the most difficult times of my life. It’s easy to talk to an online therapist because you know you will never meet them on the street and know all there personal business. Then after you have counseled with them for an extended period of time, they are almost like a friend. They can be hard to give up and because for an hour a day you feel complete peace, and in my hectic world and home life I became addicted to that peace. I was never in love with her, and stalked her online, but I did love the peace she gave me. I counseled with her for year everyday, giving her up was hard because I missed the advice, the peace she gave me.

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