Is every feeling towards my therapist part of transference? If not, can you please explain what is and what is not transference.


I’m having a hard time understanding the difference between transference and feelings one has towards people who are not their therapists.

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Honestly, this is a question you need to ask your therapist. It’s good you’re looking after your mental health they are they are the best person to help you understand transference

Transference and countertransference are generally discredited concepts (or to put it more tactfully: not clinically significant) based on the old psychodynamic model of therapy, the Freud-and-a-couch idea, where the therapist is a blank and empty container that you’re supposed to offload your stored up anger or whatever into.

Let’s be a bit more blunt: it’s complete BS. It really harmed a LOT of people. The psychodynamic model is why mental institutions back then were legitimate horror settings, worse in real life than in the movies. The psychodynamic therapists from back in the day who actually did any good at all were the ones who ignored their theory completely and instead actually LISTENED to their patients and empathized with them. Completely taboo according to their training, but the right thing to do.

Psychodynamic therapy still exists today, but it’s a cleaned up version that references the old concepts without really embracing them, and instead does stuff that actually works, like listening and empathizing with patients (instead of, for example, invariably accusing patients of being secretly hostile).

Throwing away the old concepts of transference and countertransference (they never had a scientific basis to begin with), how you feel about your therapist is really not special or distinct. Therapists aren’t special. They’re just people. So just like with every other person in your life, how you feel about them is a reflection of how they treat you.

If your therapist is any good at their job, you probably really like them. Not because you’re supposed to like your therapist, but because to be at all effective, therapists need to do things like listen, empathize, and validate. And as a rule, we REALLY like people who do that.