“Let’s Talk About Th’ Erotic Feelings In The Therapeutic Process”

The process of the therapeutic encounter includes connection, provision of care, ex- posure of vulnerability and deep emotional contact between two persons. In this con- text it is natural for erotic feelings to arise, in either of the participants. The erotic feel- ings that emerge in the therapeutic setting, common as they might be, are often left unsaid. Feelings of shame, fear or guilt might lead therapists to secrecy or a selective professional isolation. That makes it difficult to get the support and guidance they need in order to understand, process and develop ways of working with them. More- over, even though several issues concerning sexuality have been in the center of at- tention and public dialogue in the last years, the emergence of erotic feelings in the therapy room remains a subject that is often poorly addressed in training programs and in bibliography. The purpose of this presentation is to create a space where themes surrounding erotic feelings can be shared and explored.


Within the relational framework of Gestalt Therapy theory, whatever emerges between client and therapist, including erotic feelings, is a valuable source of information concerning the therapeutic process. In this theoretical presentation we will explore the field of erotic feelings in the therapeutic relationship, based on our understanding of the relational SOS model by Sally Denham- Vaughan and Marie- Anne Chidiac. We will discuss the Enduring Relational Themes (term comprised by Lynne Jacobs to describe transference) that might be implicated in the emergence of the erotic feelings. We will examine how they might influence the therapeutic interaction, how they might be influenced by the dynamics of the therapeutic relationship and the ethical issues that emerge. We will navigate in the supporting ground of: phenomenological exploration, authentic dialogue, ethical presence of the therapist, existential themes, shared responsibility for the co- creation of contact, intentionality for contact that is inherent in eroticism, awareness of the wider field concerning sexuality and eroticism. Finally, we will suggest ways to work creatively with erotic feelings, integrating their potential to become an agent of change in the therapeutic process.