Is erotic transference merely a sexual fantasy about your therapist? Is it a desire for steamy, big screen sex with him? Might something else be happening?
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If you have questions about anything in this post, or questions about things not discussed in this post, please feel free to ask a question in the comments or send me the question privately at the email address in the right column. I got a request from a reader to discuss erotic transference, so I thought I would share a few thoughts. I do want to be clear that although I have done a lot of reading about erotic transference, most of what I write here is based on my own experience and so may not be all that universal.
Erotic transference is a relatively common process in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. In spite of its difficult management, when appropriately understood and managed, erotic transference may become a useful tool in the therapeutic process. In this review, we will address the concept of erotic transference, with emphasis on the difficulties faced in the technical management of the process, as well as the use of countertransference and the influence of gender in this situation. Keywords: Psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic psychotherapy, transference, erotic transference, erotized transference.
It strikes me that I did not elaborate on erotic transference in my recent blog post about transference. It seems to me that sexual feelings towards a therapist are often some of the most uncomfortable and difficult feelings that can emerge within the relationship. As I talk about erotic transference, I want to confess some ambivalence about the term.
Brighton Therapy Partnership held a CPD training event on the topic of erotic transference and countertransference in Erotic transference is a term used to describe the feelings of love and the fantasies of a sexual or sensual nature that a client experiences about their therapist. Anna O was infatuated with Breuer, even having a phantom pregnancy with what she believed to be his child.
This workshop also reconceptualizes and restores the term perversion into the clinical lexicon. By viewing perversion on a structural level as a quality of relating rather than a specific action or behaviorthe term is both narrowed and reformulated so that it may be paradoxically more broadly applied. Case illustrations of erotic material will be used as examples of phases in treatment as well as moments of defensive impasse.
Our second weekend on sex involved discussing sexual abuse, erotic transference and how to deal with panic attacks. There were lots of opportunities to discuss the practical aspects of our client work which was very helpful. It was perhaps an appropriate time to have this weekend when the BBC is discussing how to deal with the Jimmy Saville affair.
All therapists at some point struggle with sexual and loving feelings in therapy relationships. Due to the absence of core curriculum on the resultant treatment issues, the psychotherapy supervisor or consultant may be the primary clinical teacher around these complex clinical situations. A safe, shame-free, trust-worthy supervisory relationship provides the arena for open dialogue, self-revelation, and deep clinical exploration of these issues. Lack of specialized training leaves clinicians vulnerable to misunderstanding or mishandling sexually charged clinical situations.