Explaining Transference and the Therapeutic Dyad to the Layperson

I have not dropped off the face of the planet, despite not having written for over a week.  I do, just about, remain in this plane of existence.  I just have been unable to get motivated to write anything at all for the last few days.  I do plan to rectify this sorry state of affairs later this week.

I did see C on Thursday past; it was the last time I’ll see him for three weeks; I will miss him.  I wasn’t as distraught about it as I was expecting to be, however, which is a bit odd.  I’ll write about the session in full later in the week; at present A and I are at his parents’ caravan, so I am typing this from my mobile – not the best place to write a full, in-depth, potentially analytical post!

This post is little more than a quick query, really.  Aside from my myriad of Internet compatriots also undergoing psychotherapy, no one else I know seems to understand the nature of the therapeutic relationship nor the phenomenon of transference.  To be fair, why would they?  It is the weirdest relationship one can ever have.  Hat-tip to Behind the Couch for that quote.

Speaking of BTC, to my considerable regret, she has had to take down her truly excellent blog on the nature of psychotherapy.  This is a real shame, as it was a brilliant resource for exploring and explaining the nature of therapy and the odd asymetrical relationship inherent in the process.

So, the point is this, dearest readers.  Everyone knows I am obsessed with C, and in my view that, given the nature of the therapeutic relationship, is entirely normal – if I didn’t experience some sort of transference (and I didn’t in previous therapeutic settings), then I don’t think it would be functioning as it should.  But my real life associates find the obsession bizarre.  I’ve been accused of ‘fancying’ or being ‘in love’ with him (not true).  I’ve been told that what I think of him is pure ‘fantasy’ (not true as I don’t fantasise about him in any way!).  I’ve even been told that I should quit seeing him and ‘perhaps go to a woman instead’ (not a good idea when one is a mysoginst-feminist, as I am).

When I protest against these comments, explaining that I should feel some sort of transference for the process to be working properly, it seems that the belief is that this is a case of ‘the lady doth protest too much’.  People seem to think that my belief that I should feel this (or something, anyway) is all just part of my delusional belief that C is going to fall on his knees, declare undying love for me and that we’re going to run off into the fucking sunset together.  Or something.

So, two questions arise.  Is my transference abnormal?  I don’t think so, but I’m biased.  So I leave the answer to you.  Secondly, do you know of any good books / leaflets / (preferably) websites that adequately explain the nature of the therapeutic dyad to the person that’s never been there?  I’m looking for something non-academic, but in-depth enough to convey the concept, as long as it’s clear and in understandable layman’s terms.

BTC was the obvious choice for this in the past, and I really miss that blog (though this should not be read as a criticism of BTC herself; she had to take the blog down so it’s not her fault it’s gone.  It’s others’).  But is there something comparable out there in the ether?

Or am I just being delusional again?  Does such a thing even exist?  Can such a thing exist – or are transference and the inherent strangeness of the relationship just too odd to covey by mere words?

Any suggestions, comments and discussion would be most welcome and appreciated.

EDIT (22 October, 2009): Although Behind the Couch as a blog (ie. periodically updated journal, with comments) no longer exists, the author has very kindly created an archive of her posts from the original site.  As such, I am pleased to be able to direct any readers of this post interested in the dynamic of the therapeutic relationship to http://couched.wordpress.com.  For information on transference specifically, there is an introductory post here.  I also quite like this explanation of the dyad as the ‘weirdest relationship you’ll ever have’.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Thanks to the artist formerly known as BTC for creating this archive.  She put up nearly a year’s worth of posts, which must have been a hell of a lot of work, all for the benefit of us saddos who are still trying to understand therapy.  Kudos.
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7 thoughts on “Explaining Transference and the Therapeutic Dyad to the Layperson

  1. Got a tweet from one of “the accused” linking to Google search results for “I feel an emotional attachment to my therapist”. Misses the point. The issue is not about my feeling an “emotional attachment” to C; it’s how the necessity and normality of that us explained to those not in therapy.

  2. Haven’t visited this post in ages, so only just noticed this:

    Possibly related posts:

    * Top ten reasons why I dislike breastfeeding
    * Obamamania is Passed – And That’s a Good Thing

    Yep. Breastfeeding and Obama are so directly related to psychotherapy and transference.

    WordPress FAIL!

  3. Hey you, thanks for the shout-out

    I had a word doc of 192 pages in 6pt font.

    I uploaded about 2 thirds of the posts (the ones that I think are of most use) and changed all the links between posts to reflect the new site. It took about 8 hours.



  4. I’d love to read this BTC archive blog you speak of but it seems you must be invited in order to access it 😦 The therapeutic relationship is something I’d like to understand more about myself. The best thing I have read so far was in the book: Attachment, Trauma and Multiplicity: Working with Dissociative Identity Disorder by Valerie Sinason. Which, although is mainly about DID, also talks a lot about attachment disorders and how this is reflected on therapeutic relatoinships. It talks about this transferance relationship as being an important and positive part of therapy and that if used properly can be the key to healing from trauma. Unfortunately, it relies on your therapist not to piss off and abandon you.

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