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Blurrerd boundaries with male therapist or projection?

knert

New Here
Hi,

Im really confused and scared.
Soon I will see a male therapist, for like the 5th time and it should be our official beginning on an individual level, before it was a group setting.

I really don't see the difference between me projecting fear/ attachement vs other people's things. Tranceferance vs countertransferance.
And with the lack of control to navigate my safety it really scares me.

What has happend so far:
I was in a really dark place when I met him. He listend, cared and even got me some extra help (possibly breaking some rules) that I was begging for for over 6 months. Due to mistakes by the organisation I really didn't trust the therapists anymore. Like seeing them as narcists and flying monkeys... (but is this real or projection?!?! I can't think straight due to cptsd!)
And he was there to help, creating a tiny bit of safety!

Then he asked me at 1 point if I did realize how beautiful I really was? After me ranting on about how sick I got from streat harresment. This stuck with me since it felt a bit weird for a therapist to say. Like a 16 year old boy, in awe of a pretty girl. Not a therapist, working with a woman that has severe trauma with men and you wish to establish trust with.

At other times he wincked at me, when I left. I think to make "the heavy a bit lighter", but it didn't feel in "sink" because I was really happy to connect with myself even when it was dark. And it makes me feel icky to be used for his comfort instead of the being a client, like I was (emotionaly) abused and serverly stalked by the fellow residance with no support from the staff in the homeless shelter not even a year ago. He also often gives high fives, so he is very fysical for a therapist and that is really helpfull AND freaking me out at the same time since it diviates from the norm, I fear boundaries are on a slippery sloap and due to my "addiction high", im in no place to see the bigger picture or to really protect myself if needed.

Then he had to leave early and when saying goodbye everyone could choose a hug or a handshake or what ever. I thought I was fine giving him a hug. No mistakes made here on his side, but my body wasnt ok with it after all.
I smelt his parfume for like 20 minutes after that point and I got "high", like the relationship addiction, obsession high.... that I didn't want to deal with for atleast another year!!! Its here in full force.

I know I should talk about it with him, but im really really scared I get gaslighted all over like in my past and with other doctors/ homeless shelter... to find out I was right afterall and that could be really traumatic... biggest fear is that I drag him into my weird relationship coping and he doesn't see it comming, then falls in love with me, freaks out and runs for the hills...Just about the time Im fully open and vaunrable...
It feels arrogant to write, yet after +50 times in real life it could happen in therapy right, though the chances are low?!? And since the norm with breaking boundaries by 6 other therapist in the organisation..? How am I not to mistrust?

I really need the help, yet finding a different therapy centere will take about +2 years atleast due to waighting lists. So that adds to the pressure.
Thanks for reading and any tips are welcome.
 
Confused and scared. Yes. That makes it difficult to make sense of normal, regular interactions. Sit with what you want and say that. Even if it is, you stay in your chair I’ll stay in mine, no contact, no winking, no hugs no high fives. He likely will respect it. Get to know him. And let him know you just want super tight boundaries. He sounds energetic , and cheerful sort. Scared and confused makes us second guess these types. See what happens if you ask him for physical distance boundaries until you feel safe, and get some tools under way so that you can read signals.
 
I agree with @Teamwork especially since therapists seem to be in short supply. However sometimes two personalities don’t fit together in a relationship, including a therapeutic one. If you feel like it’s just your projection and you want to explore getting past that then it might be a case of being curious about what he has to offer. However, if you feel genuinely creeped out and like this situation i s not helping you or even triggering you further (not in a therapeutic way) then there could be an opportunity to practice listening to your intuition.
 
biggest fear is that I drag him into my weird relationship coping and he doesn't see it comming, then falls in love with me, freaks out and runs for the hills...Just about the time Im fully open and vaunrable...
So, therapists actually do work on separating their work and their life. There is a thread on here about therapy being an "artifical" or the word I like better a "constructed" relationship.
They don't take their work home. It stays in the office. Their interest is in keeping it a patient/therapist relationship and nothing more.

If it bothers you - you should talk it out with your T. Straiten that stuff out right off the bat. Tell him what makes you uncomfortable and work from there.
 
My perspective: telling you you are beautiful, and winking at you, are really inappropriate things for a therapist to do.
do raise it with him. He either respects what you say, and stops. Which a good therapist would do.

or he doesn’t, and then , in my view, it would be more harmful to stay than go.

I hope it goes well for you.
 
They don't take their work home. It stays in the office. Their interest is in keeping it a patient/therapist relationship and nothing more.

It would be nice if this was universally true, but it is not. If you want to really hate therapists, and see all the smack they talk about their own clients, feel free to visit the therapist sub on Reddit. It’s pretty damn eye opening. (There’s lots of other therapist nonsense that is talked about, too.)
 
It would be nice if this was universally true, but it is not. If you want to really hate therapists, and see all the smack they talk about their own clients, feel free to visit the therapist sub on Reddit. It’s pretty damn eye opening. (There’s lots of other therapist nonsense that is talked about, too.)
I’ve seen that sub and it’s absolutely terrifying the amount of terrible therapists with problems up to the eyeballs.


@knert, sounds to me like your therapist is being inappropriate. Maybe because he just has exceptionally poor boundaries and is a bad therapist, maybe something else, there’s not enough info to tell. I am a firm believer that therapists should be professionals, the line gets drawn there. Any form of physical contact is not okay & extremely unprofessional at best. His comments were unacceptable and I would have told him so, and then left.

You have said you are uncomfortable, that is enough. Leave and find a different therapist.
 
I’ve seen that sub and it’s absolutely terrifying the amount of terrible therapists with problems up to the eyeballs.


@knert, sounds to me like your therapist is being inappropriate. Maybe because he just has exceptionally poor boundaries and is a bad therapist, maybe something else, there’s not enough info to tell. I am a firm believer that therapists should be professionals, the line gets drawn there. Any form of physical contact is not okay & extremely unprofessional at best. His comments were unacceptable and I would have told him so, and then left.

You have said you are uncomfortable, that is enough. Leave and find a different therapist.
I agree that the behaviour was unacceptable; but I think we need to be very careful how we tread here. In no way is it the person's fault for not leaving. There is a huge power imbalance here.
 
I agree that the behaviour was unacceptable; but I think we need to be very careful how we tread here. In no way is it the person's fault for not leaving. There is a huge power imbalance here.
I never said it was the persons fault. I blamed the therapist for their unprofessionalism. OP has recognised that the therapists behaviour might be sketchy, which is great. I was trying to give them confidence that I believe they are right in their thoughts to be wary of this therapist, and move on to find another.
 
We get really powerful responses on this forum when it comes to questioning Ts. Which makes a lot of sense to me, but it does mean we can get big reactions to behaviours that are comparatively moderate.

The behaviours you’ve listed that you found unsettling:
he asked me at 1 point if I did realize how beautiful I really was?
Do you? Genuine question.

Is it possible that the question is, actually, both kind and extremely relevant to your self concept?

To me? I find those sorts of questions reeeally uncomfortable. But they are very often part of some incredible powerful themes that I absolutely need to address in therapy. Because of the kinds of self doubt and shame that you’ve hinted at.

Which would make that question both standard in trauma therapy, and potentially very relevant to you personally.

Therapists that don’t ask challenging questions I can do without, because they cost too much to be focusing on comfortable stuff!
At other times he wincked at me, when I left.
I get this one. I know some chronic winkers, and I find it odd. It feel’s personal. But also, it seems to reflect a degree of self-confidence that I find completely alien and baffling, and I often end up with a minor hint of jealousy at how comfortable they seem to be with themselves.

If the winking makes you uncomfortable, try asking him not to, and see what happens? It might be interesting and healing to see how that plays out in a healthy relationship.
He also often gives high fives, so he is very fysical for a therapist and that is really helpfull
I love high fives! I got introduced to using them when I was working with kids with profound disabilities (it encourages them to celebrate, without crossing the line into hugging strangers, which many kids with intellectual disabilities can have a n unsafe habit of doing!).

I now use high fives regular with the adult clients I work with, and have been known to throw out cyber high fives here on the forum to recognise wins!
Then he had to leave early and when saying goodbye everyone could choose a hug or a handshake or what ever. I thought I was fine giving him a hug.
Hugging therapists. This one is tricky - and to be honest, I like the idea that he offered alternatives so that you could ser the boundary you were comfortable with.

We’ve had many members over the years seek support and suggestions about how to tackle the idea of asking their therapist for a hug. Even without the power that can have for people with a history pf relational trauma, we know that hugging causes our body to flood with a heap of feel-good emotions.

Good for you for choosing the hug - nothing weird about it, to the contrary, something to celebrate:)
I know I should talk about it with him, but im really really scared I get gaslighted all over like in my past and with other doctors/ homeless shelter
Here’s where the real therapy starts. One of the single most helpful things Ts can do, for people with a history of trauma, is model a healthy relationship.

You have an opportunity here to see what it’s like to raise these vulnerabilities and concerns and find out what it’s like to not be gaslit in response. How do people in a healthy relationship (with assertive communication and appropriate boundaries) navigate this kind of incredibly difficult and personal issue? He is there for you to try it and find out. Go for it.

Even though it feels unsafe, see what happens. See how a healthy relationship can actually be madd stronger from exactly this kind of conversation, rather than it being something toxic.
biggest fear is that I drag him into my weird relationship coping and he doesn't see it comming, then falls in love with me, freaks out and runs for the hills
Yep. This is an underlying issue for many (most?) trauma patients recovering from interpersonal trauma at some point in their journey (so common it has a name - transference). Patients falling in love with their T? Super common. But also the idea that “I’m going to make him want inappropriate things” is a transference issue that I’ve personally had to work really hard on. I now have a young and attractive male T that I, 10 years ago, it would have been way too frightening for me to spend time with alone in a therapy room.

That’s your brain finding its own way to keep you safe. But actually, you are safe. It makes sense to me if you decide to switch Ts so that you can deal with other issues in therapy, without the transference stuff being a problem.

But it would also make sense to me if you were to decide to use this as an opportunity to experiment with having that kind of healthy relationship, and experience being supported in response, rather than gaslit or sexualised.
 
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