Do Psychotherapists Get Attached to Clients?

The question “do therapists get attached to clients?” is a difficult one for anyone to answer, because everyone has their own unique definition of what it means to be a good therapist. Some therapists get attached so much to their patients that they become overbearing and abusive. Other therapists develop a very close relationship with their clients and treat them as an extension of themselves. Still others view the therapeutic relationship as nothing more than a business partnership, and they feel no special connection to the individuals they are working with.

All well-trained therapists develop a sense of empathy and compassion for their clients. They try to help the person through the issues that are causing them pain. They are able to identify those problems and work with the client on their path to recovery. A good therapist will listen carefully to what the individual is saying and think through possible solutions to the issues they have identified. They are committed to working with their clients in helping them build a secure environment in which they can work through their problems and strengthen their coping mechanisms.

While most therapists do develop a caring and nurturing attitude toward their clients, they do not view the therapeutic relationship as a family relationship. Therapists are supposed to work in a detached, objective manner, and should never give their patients suggestions or opinions about how to live or handle situations. ( exception to therapy for abuse victims – in which case, you would often find a therapist recommending strategies for dealing with the issues the client has been experiencing.) They are supposed to do this in the same detached manner that they would advise a doctor not to give medicine to a patient.

Many therapists get attached to their patients because they believe that they have a deep connection with them. The fact that you are suffering from a personal crisis may cause you to put too much thought into what you say, how you say it, and how you react when you hear your therapist’s advice. You may begin to second guess yourself and become overly sensitive to your reactions. You may worry that your therapist does not truly see you as a good fit and is just trying to use you for his/her own needs. The reality of the situation is that therapists get attached to their clients because they want them to be, and believe that they can help them to recover if they are properly aligned with their therapeutic goals.

So what do you want to ask your therapist when you first start therapy? First, you want to make sure that he understands that you will need time to process everything that has happened since the breakup. He may have suggestions for making the transition easier. If so, you would then want to ask him what he believes to be a good approach to handling your feelings at this stage in the healing process.

Second, you want to ask your therapist if he feels that he has a professional obligation to you beyond simply being your therapist. Do you feel like your therapist holds a responsibility to be your friend or family member? Would you feel more comfortable discussing any issues with your therapist face-to-face rather than through counseling? What would be your best preference in terms of a relationship with your therapeutic partner?

Third, what kind of professional support does your therapist offer? Do you need help deciding where you should go in therapy, such as support groups, or is he/she willing to refer you to people who can give you the support you need? What other resources is your therapist offering? What types of things do you need to do in order to be able to work with your therapist on a regular basis? Do therapists offer therapy planning sessions or do you need to arrange your own?

Having a good therapeutic relationship with your therapist is important. When it is formed correctly, the benefits of therapy are often life changing. The key to having a good relationship with your therapeutic provider is for you to take the time to ask questions and be attentive to the things your therapist says to you and the things he/she does. This will ensure that you work on your problems in an effective manner and will ensure that you build a strong, lifelong relationship between you and your therapist.