Dear Inadequate Graduate,
I’m struggling with a very intense attraction to a client who I’ve been working with for the last several months. I don’t feel comfortable talking to my peers or supervisor about this, but I’m afraid the my attraction is getting in the way of providing effective treatment, not to mention I find myself fantasizing about this patient a lot. I don’t think she knows, but I don’t want to seem unprofessional or stupid and there are times I find myself zoning out and probably look a aloof or bored. Have you ever been in this position and what you would suggest I do to deal with it? I feel like an angsty teenager and it’s really awful.
Adolescence was bad enough the first time.
Yes, yes and yes! The first thing I want to assure you is that this is an extremely common experience, and one that might prove beneficial in the long run. When this happened to me, my supervisor said that I was actually lucky to encounter this very uncomfortable teenagesque confusion while in training. Why? Because I could seek and take advantage of proper supervision for this anxiety-inducing dynamic that was bound to happen at some point in my career. Yes, I brought it to my supervisor’s attention, and if your supervisor is not someone you feel you can talk to, is there another licensed professional, such as an advisor, professor or colleague, who you can trust? One thing that I am sure of, and that I try to impart to my patients and supervisees is that keeping our professional or personal anxieties and insecurities to ourselves does not make them go away, and as you mentioned, could have a grave impact on our ability to properly do our work.
One of the benefits of The Inadequate Graduate that it is a venue where one can anonymously ask questions and express concerns. That said, there are times where anonymity might not be the best option and I highly encourage you to speak with someone you trust, despite the discomfort that could arise. Either way, it sounds like a difficult situation, but it is likely this will not be the one and only time you feel attracted to a patient (or even someone you work with). By being able to talk about and learn from this experience you will build confidence and tools to utilize the next time you encounter Mr. or Ms. Teenage Dream-Turned-Nightmare. Trust me – I know from experience.
I hope you find this helpful, and remember that however this turns out,
You. Are. Enough.
The Inadequate Graduate