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Old 04-08-2019, 12:16 PM #1
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Default Maternal Transference with therapists - after abuse in therapy

Hi everyone,

I am looking for suggestions.

I have had extreme attachment issues with some therapists. It almost always takes on a maternal transference - and sometimes erotic.

I also have repeated traumas in therapy that are unprocessed..

I am seeing a new therapist and slowly but surely, the same yearning is creating an attachment, despite the trauma I have in past therapy and not having built trust with my therapist....

I am worried that the attachment will overtake me, regardless if I trust my therapist or not - and that it could potentially lead to re-traumatization. That is my fear anyways.

What do I do? Do I distance myself? I have let her know but the attachment is really coming out.

Thanks,
HD7970ghz
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Old 04-17-2019, 07:41 PM #2
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Default Re: Maternal Transference with therapists - after abuse in therapy

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Originally Posted by HD7970GHZ View Post
Hi everyone,

I am looking for suggestions.

I have had extreme attachment issues with some therapists. It almost always takes on a maternal transference - and sometimes erotic.

I also have repeated traumas in therapy that are unprocessed..

I am seeing a new therapist and slowly but surely, the same yearning is creating an attachment, despite the trauma I have in past therapy and not having built trust with my therapist....

I am worried that the attachment will overtake me, regardless if I trust my therapist or not - and that it could potentially lead to re-traumatization. That is my fear anyways.

What do I do? Do I distance myself? I have let her know but the attachment is really coming out.

Thanks,
HD7970ghz
It's easy to become attached to someone who cares for you when you feel like you've been neglected for most of your life. I'm sorry that you've had these experiences, and it's good that you're going to therapy to explore these issues. By traumatization, do you mean rejection? This may be difficult to read but that is a possibility, granted that your relationship is strictly professional, and she can't have a relationship outside of her office with you.

My suggestion would be that in order for you to get all you can out of therapy, without the interference of maternal transference, would be to see a male therapist, instead of a female one. This would guarantee that you will not have any sexual fantasies or maternal attachment to him but would still give you the safe space and professional opinion that will help you sort through your issues.
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Old 04-19-2019, 01:15 AM #3
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Default Re: Maternal Transference with therapists - after abuse in therapy

I would talk about it. There need be no shame around this. This is a trauma thing. In adults who experiences attachment trauma in childhood, there are patterns of attachment with therapists. With the right therapist (that is one that is really knowledgeable about attachment trauma, the neurobiological responses of trauma and the ways to heal these kinds of trauma) talking about what is going on as it is going on is the way to understand and work through it. The yearning for attachment is absolutely understandable in the context of trauma. It is how human beings are wired to ensure self-protection. The patterns of attachment are studied and predictable and make perfect sense in context. But having the right therapist to work through this with is crucial. They really have to be up on their trauma theory.


Edited to add: the maternal transference isn't actually anything to do with the T. It's all about you. No judgement or shame in this. It's all about a fundamental human need that was not met in childhood. Successful attachment to a maternal figure is crucial for normal human development. When that human need is not met part of us cannot develop normally. The human being so needs a positive maternal attachment that it never stops seeking it when an opportunity arises, even after that developmental window when it was truly required has passed.
I don't believe a therapist (or any other person) can fulfil that developmental need for attachment... I believe development had to limp along with it. But I believe a developmental injury has been sustained. I liken it to a physical development.... say a baby in the womb needs a certain amount of calcium at a certain time in order to create strong bones and teeth.... say the amount of calcium is deficient... the baby will still form bones and teeth, but throughout the course of the lifetime they will never be as strong as they could have been if that nutrient had been provided at the time when those bones and teeth were being formed. I think of positive attachment as a nutrient like that. A really CRUCIAL nutrient, that doesn't just affect one part of the (psychological) body, but the whole (psychological) body. When the human psych has to proceed with development without a positive maternal attachment, it is definitely and irrevocably injured.

So I say talk about this with your T, absolutely. You have been injured. And with any injured being you need to know how to best care for that injury. Your yearning for a maternal figure is not in any way shameful or wrong. It is the mark of the human striving for survival, and survival in the best possible way. That human need for maternal caring still exists and will never go away, because we human beings are wired to strive for caring throughout the entire course of our lives.
But our Ts can't give that to us. Shouldn't give that to us. No matter how great the yearning. There isn 't actually anyone who could fulfil that need within us... the only ones who could are appropriate mother figures at the appropriate time (in early childhood) and that time is gone.

Talk about it with your T. Your yearning is understandable, predictable. It is an injury. It needs to be healed, as best it can be. Which I firmly believe is not through a current day mother figure, but through understanding, self compassion, grief, acceptance and love. A good T can/ should /will walk you through this.


The attachment is your therapeutic work.

Last edited by Amyjay; 04-19-2019 at 01:47 AM.
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Old 04-20-2019, 07:03 PM #4
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Default Re: Maternal Transference with therapists - after abuse in therapy

I'm you went through all of that. I have a history of childhood trauma too and I've spent my whole life unconsciously looking for a mother figure who could fill that void. As a kid I would get very attached to some teachers and idealize them to the point where it would become almost obsessive. It was very painful too because it would only leave me feeling ashamed, confused and needy.
I've had similar experiences with therapists too. One of them was especially difficult. It's been more than 2 years since I quit therapy with her, but I still feel hurt and resented about some of the things that happened.
I tried to talk about transference with her but she seemed uncomfortable about it and told me it would be better for me to leave...
I've always had a difficult time trusting people, but this experience made things even worse.
I'm currently seeing a Pdoc and she's helped me a lot. I don't have a maternal transference with her; but I do have trust issues that often keep me from making progress. Also I feel like her kind of approach (psychodynamic) can't really offer me anything new right now. I would like to see someone who is specialized in trauma, but I know I have this tendency to get too attached and I'm scared of feeling betrayed and abandoned again...
I wish I could say something more helpful sorry *sadhug*
I think @Amyjay gave a very good answer.
In my experience bringing up the topic is crucial so you can work through it (or leave if your T isn't able to handle it -which shouldn't happen-) :/ ... if you have a compassionate and professional therapist telling them about your feelings can make you feel more in charge of these emotions, and they can feel "less intense".
I hope everything goes well *sending hugs*
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Old 04-22-2019, 12:24 PM #5
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Default Re: Maternal Transference with therapists - after abuse in therapy

Thank you all for taking time to respond to my post. It means so much.

Everything that was shared I can resonate with! My heart goes out to you for also having this particular attachment issue and deep yearning for a maternal figure. I can see this pattern in all my childhood and of course it still currently impacts my life greatly. It breaks my heart that we cannot get this need met in therapy. My therapist seems very aware of this issue and I wished she could provide for me an experience that allows me to move past it. But I don't think that'll go away.

Do you think it is possible that these attachment issues will dissipate? I don't want to have this maternal transference take control of me whenever I should meet a female I like, whether that is friends, family or intimate relations.

Thank you so much. I will post longer replies when I am back at home, I am visiting extended family as of now so I don't got much time.

Thanks,
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Old 04-23-2019, 02:33 AM #6
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Default Re: Maternal Transference with therapists - after abuse in therapy

I absolutely believe that injury can be healed. But like any major trauma it will cause scarring, and maybe even some permanent form of disability. But I absolutely believe it can heal to the point where the wound can no longer be ripped open.

The purpose of childhood attachment to a "good enough" parent figure is so we learn to feel safe, secure, and loved. So we learn we are good enough. So we learn how to give love to others. So we learn how to relate to other human beings, on an emotionally intimate level. Our therapists can't be that parent in our childhood that we missed out on, but they can model safety, security, and unconditional positive regard. They can help us learn to give those things to ourselves. They can help us learn to be compassionate towards ourselves and others. They can't do it for us, but they can help us do it for ourselves.
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Old 04-25-2019, 12:07 PM #7
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Default Re: Maternal Transference with therapists - after abuse in therapy

Im thinking of you HD
I can relate to being retraumatised in therapy
I have yet to find a therapist who is understanding
I dont think they are plentiful in this particular forest
That is just my opinion

Thanks for this post
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