The Fantasy of the Therapist


[fan-tuh-see, -zee] /ˈfæn tə si, -zi/

  1. imagination,especially when extravagant and unrestrained.
  2. the forming of mental images, especially wondrous or strange fancies; imaginative conceptualizing.
  3. a mental image, especially when unreal or fantastic; vision:

a nightmare fantasy.

I questioned myself this morning, “should I have cancelled my session tonight to have spent the evening with my boyfriend?” and then I answered myself by thinking, “No, we will swap cards when I get home and will have dinner together”. But then I thought to myself, “Oooh, maybe my therapist might have wanted the night off to spend with her.. husband? boyfriend?”

Isn’t it weird how little we actually know about the person we confide in most in the world? The person who we spend hours pouring our heart and souls out to. You make up a fantasy of their life, whether they are married or not, whether they have children, a boy, a girl? What ages… you decide on what they might like to do in their spare time, what kind of mother they are, what their house is decorated like etc and where do you take it all from really? Not a lot!

My T gives very little away about her life. I know she has children because she has used the words “my children” to me before… it always brings on a strange feeling when she does. Jealousy? Clearly in my fantasy, she is the perfect mother. She is patient, encouraging, supportive and very maternal. She loves her children and she enjoys spending time with them. Likewise, they love their mother and seek comfort and familiarity in her. She can see her children for who they are and encourages them in all they do in life. They seek solace in her. Lucky kids. She is a strong, dependable, intelligent woman. A role model. She has hobbies and friends and a “normal” family.

I’ve searched her hands looking for a ring, she doesn’t wear one. I decide in my head once that she was probably divorced and happy on her own nowadays but recently I thought that someone so well-educated on healthy relationships and someone who has “worked through” any issues she might have once had, was probably able to have very happy, healthy, long-lasting relationships so I doubted she would be alone.

Once a few months ago, a man arrived when I was outside her house sitting in my car waiting for my appointment time. He got out of a large white van and was dressed as though he had a physical job like a builder or something. He knocked on her front door and when there was no answer, he went down the side of her house (this is where the therapy door is!). I totally freaked out because I thought he had gone into the room – my room! At my slot. I sat in the car 5 minutes past my session start time. It threw me into a bit of a panic as I didn’t know what to do. Eventually I went and knocked on the door, T opened the door as usual and it turned out that said man went around the back of the house to get in. My T told me that he wasn’t there to visit her… hmm, so who was he and who was he there to visit? I didn’t ask, because that isn’t the proper thing to do is it, not when you are always trying to be “good” anyway. I decided that he wasn’t her husband or boyfriend because he would have his own key and I decided that her husband wouldn’t do a job like that. I am far from judgmental or snobby so I have no idea why I thought this. I guess in my fantasy, if she had a husband, he was probably a therapist too or maybe a doctor or something. They would have high-powered, important, well-paid jobs.

I’ve seen her daughter park outside their house before and go inside, I guess that she is about 24 or around that age and I also know that T has animals. Definitely dogs and chickens.

Isn’t it weird how over 3 years, all I have put together is that she may or may not have a partner. She has one daughter and another child of which I don’t even know the sex – yet alone names or ages and that she has some animals.

Having said all of this, really we pay them to help us on our epic journey towards healing. As long as they are trained, empathetic, supportive, understanding, kind, attuned, consistent and all the other things that therapists need to be, does it really matter whether they are married, have kids, like the colour purple or watch Eastenders? I guess not. But I think that the fantasy of all those things actually tell us more about us and what we need and want in life, at least that is true of me.

It has only become clear to me since writing this blog entry that the “qualities” I’ve dreamt up about my therapist are probably actually what I wish I had in a mother.

They say you see what you want to see….

TT x





3 thoughts on “The Fantasy of the Therapist

  1. I saw my therapist for about three years (?) in the early 2000s, then went away, and now I’ve been seeing her continually since 2010. Yeah, I know, I’m not a fast learner.

    I think I’ve known the whole time that she was married and had one son, a bit younger than my son. (Like you, I don’t know their names.) She hasn’t mentioned them much but they very occasionally came up in examples she shared. I also learned that she came from a fundamentalist Christian family and ended up leaving religion behind as a young adult but carried a lot of shame and fear from her upbringing.

    I know psychologists are taught not to reveal information about themselves in therapy, and I get why. But it’s also helped me to have her share a little, once in a long while. It makes me feel connected to her.

    On the other hand, last fall she had a milestone birthday and told me she was having a big party at her house. She said she was a social person who loved parties and wanted to invite all her friends. That was one of the first times that knowing something about her made me jealous. She has lots of friends in her life, she loves them, she invites them to parties. And I am nothing to her, a client she sees once or sometimes twice a week. I wanted to mean more to her than that.

    Ah, one more complication of the therapy relationship…


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