Transference and Counter-Transference: A Guide to the Intimacy of Massage Therapy

As members of the therapeutic community we necessarily develop intimate relationships with our clients. We certainly become intimately acquainted with our clients’ bodies almost immediately. We also often find ourselves in intimate contact with their mental and emotional states before this if not soon thereafter.

Clients will often begin sharing private information immediately about how they are feeling physically and emotionally and where they feel they would like or need help. Many find the professional therapeutic bodywork setting to be an ideal and non-threatening environment in which to share their most private hopes, fears, and experiences.

Because the depth and intimacy of these experiences imbues them with much power and because at times we can find ourselves the focus of the client’s own process of healing and release it becomes very important to maintain clear and strong boundaries. As massage therapists we must have tools available to help us effectively, carefully and lovingly manage these intimate encounters.

Transference, counter transference, and projection are three important and functional concepts to be familiar with when thinking of the client/therapist relationship. In this section we will be discussing what these concepts are, how they function within the context of the therapeutic relationship and how to best react to these issues for your clients’ and your own psychological and emotional well-being.

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