This is an extremely common client reaction to the therapy process. In many ways, the therapist is a kind of stunt double for the client’s past and current relationships—romantic ones included. As the client develops a close bond with the therapist, sexual or romantic feelings sometimes arise. Much as is the case with negative feelings toward the therapist, the client’s sexual feelings toward the therapist can be adaptively utilized to further the treatment process. The client should feel free to discuss such feelings openly, as the therapist realizes they are not to be taken “personally,” but rather as a displacement of unresolved relationship issues.
It should be emphasized that, although it is appropriate for a client to discuss his or her sexual feelings toward the therapist, the therapist should not indicate a reciprocation of such feelings in any way. In helping the client explore his or her sexual feelings within this safe context, the therapist provides a kind of relationship “laboratory” in which the client can observe, experiment with, and re-assess his or her unresolved interpersonal issues.