Yes, of course, I get attached, in truth, I get attached to one degree or another to every patient with whom I work. I work with people over multiple sessions weekly for years. Yes, I become attached as I find that to more or lesser degrees I fall in love with all my patients.
I long ago learned from a mentor who I talked to about having fallen in love with one of my patients. He told me how lucky the patient was that I had fallen for her as it seemed that neither of her parents had fallen in love with their own daughter.
I simply allow myself to enjoy the experience but also investigate with the patient how he or she feels about me, usually a transference, and my countertransference of falling in love with them. I work primarily with very disturbed, often psychotic patients and my falling in love is partly what is healing.
This does make terminating both wonderful and painful as, like any parent, or any psychodynamically informed psychotherapist working intensely with people, I have to let go of the patient and encourage their exploration of life away from therapy; I support, no matter how painful, the patient’s need to outgrow the therapy and me.
Like the parent I am, I’ve learned how to let go in the face of my own feelings of loss and pain as I want nothing more than a good life for the people with whom I’ve spent so many years.
In short, I don’t defend against my strong feelings of love and care nor the inevitable loss knowing that termination will be painful and growth producing for us both.
I must add to this that my own long-term psychotherapy has certainly helped me with this emotional constellation at the heart of my work.