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Transference and Some Of The Warning Signs

Discussion in 'Law and Ethics' started by Robert LMT, Jun 20, 2016.

  1. Robert LMT

    Robert LMT Licensed Massage Therapist

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    Transference happens when there is difference in authority that resembles the parent-child relationship. The client who comes to a massage therapist receives the nurturing that they never received as a child and puts the massage therapist on a pedestal. The nurturing touch brings out the old feelings and emotions that were repressed or suppressed in early childhood. The client unconsciously begins to see the massage therapist as the nurturing parent and it can bring up feelings of attachment that were not resolved growing up. It is when the client unconsciously thinks that the massage therapist is their mother or father or other significant caretaker.

    Attachment is what happens between a mother and child that allows the child to grow and build self esteem. The infant knows learns about themselves through touch. There are various stages of attachment that occur in child development where the infant feels like they are one with the mother. As a child grows they learn that they are separate from the mother. This is where things often go astray. If a secure attachment is not formed in their early part of life, they will have life long challenges that result from that.

    Massage and nurturing touch re-enacts the process of development. I actually think this is also why spa treatments are so popular with the use of healing waters and body wraps. Getting regular massage and developing a relationship with a massage therapist in which the client feels nurtured and cared for as if they were receiving it from their mothers can help heal the grief of not ever getting those early childhood needs met.

    Transference is really important yet difficult to understand. The best way to understand it is to experience it. You may or may not have had some of these feelings arise when you were getting a massage from someone:

    • Feeling like you don’t want the massage to ever end
    • Not wanting to leave the office
    • Seeing the massage therapist outside of the office and wanting to follow them where ever they go.
    Or from the other aspect seeing it in your clients:

    • bringing you flowers or special gifts
    • hearing about people’s personal problems
    • being asked to make exceptions in scheduling and payment options.
    • inviting you out socially as a friend
    • asking you out on a date or making other advances on you.
    Or if you ever worked with a psychologist or mental health professional in therapy, you can come to learn more about transference from seeing your own. Becoming aware of your projections in a therapy setting can be a painful experience. It is a matter of getting a look at your unconscious thoughts through relationship. It can be a very eye-opening process and really lasts a lifetime.