Tag Archives: therapists

Counselors: How do you deal with attraction to clients?

For my counseling friends, you may wish to read this piece by Ryan Neace about sexual attraction in the therapist office. Do you have someone to talk to in this kind of frank manner about the reality of attraction? How do you handle it?

Remember, sexual attraction is not limited to just wanting to have sex with someone. Ryan does a good job identifying types of sexual responses to others beyond outright lust and fantasy. Notice also his drawing attention to the myth of the sexual vortex.

“The pastor who refuses eye contact sends a clear message…‘You are seductive. You are a sexual vortex that I may get sucked in to.’ The slippery slope of my lust is your problem. And my ministry is too valuable to allow the likes of you to trip me up.”

Given that we all have examples of counselors and leaders who crossed sexual lines, the myth and fear of the vortex can keep us from addressing needs of others. And, as he notes, it sends a very loud message to some clients (mostly women) that they are a danger at the cellular level). What a burden we place on others!

Two questions for readers:

1. How do you respond to incidents of sexual attraction?

2. How would you want to respond to the question posed to Yalom copied below (about whether he would in a different situation be attracted to a female client)? Redirect? Focus on the “deeper question”? Answer it?

Yalom considers a female client who asks, “Am I appealing to men? To you? If you weren’t my therapist would you respond sexually to me?”

… [Yalom’s answer]:

If you deem it in the patient’s best interests, why not simply say… ‘If everything were different, we met in another world, I were single, I weren’t your therapist, then yes, I would find you very attractive and sure would make an effort to know you better.’ What’s the risk? In my view such candor simply increases the patient’s trust in you and in the process of therapy. Of course, this does not preclude other types of inquiry about the question—about, for example, the patient’s motivation or timing (the standard “Why now?” question) or inordinate preoccupation with physicality or seduction, which may be obscuring even more significant questions. (bold emphasis Ryan’s)


Filed under christian counseling, christian psychology, Christianity, counseling skills, Sex, sexuality

“I apologize for being late…”: bad behaviors by your counselor

Just skimmed, “‘I apologize for being late’: The courteous psychotherapist” (in the 2008 (v. 45:2)Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, pp 273-277) by Rolfs Pinkerton. Pinkerton details how our bad behaviors can harm (gasp!) the therapeutic alliance but that courteousness and correcting the behavior can help alleviate the problem. No surprise here.

But wait, what are some of the bad behaviors (no not the really bad and really obvious ones) he’s concerned about. Let’s see how we rate:

1. Being more than 15 minutes late. Apologies help but if it is a regular problem then…

Hmm. I’m usually 5 minutes late. Does that count as bad?

2. Falling asleep or being obviously worn out.

I try to solve this by drinking caffeine.

3. Forgetting names, using the wrong one or the wrong pronunciation.

So, when I pray for my “brother” or “sister” is it obvious that I’ve forgotten their name? Actually, I do pray that way sometimes and I haven’t forgotten a thing.

4. Repeatedly checking the clock.

I have an internal clock and so I try not to ever look. Probably why I’m regularly 10 minutes behind by the end of the day. So, how much is too much?

5. Taking calls.

Never do that. But I have forgotten to silence the phone. I hate it when that happens.

6. Drinking or eating in front of the client without offering some.

Oops. Did I mention that I caffeinate? Didn’t think that was rude. Hmmm. I have clients coming in bringing their Starbucks and I never feel left out. I wouldn’t eat in front of them. Do I get partial credit?

How about you? If you are a counselor, what are your faux pas? If you ever were a client, what annoying (not illegal or immoral ones–those are pretty clear) habits irk/irked you? (Be gentle with us and be sure to protect the guilty. We’re rather fragile.)


Filed under christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, counseling skills, Psychology, Relationships, teaching counseling

Favorite Psychologist in the media?

My Pennsylvania Psychologist came this week and is on psychology in the media. One article talked about the ways psychologists and therapists are portrayed in movies. I guess some are sensitive about the bad portrayal of some therapists and that it might stigmatize or put off the public from using our services.

So, what therapists in the movies or on TV are your favorite? Who is the most lifelike?

My personal favorite is Bob Newhart. Not for accuracy but for comedy.


Filed under Psychology