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Dealing with Transference in Reiki healing

Posted in Building your Healing Practice, and Reiki 2 (advanced)

There is a term in psychotherapy called ‘transference’; its when a client unconsciously transfers feelings and attitudes from a person or situation in the past on to a person or situation in the present.  Its a common issue amongst therapists and their patients, and it is something to watch out for in Reiki, especially if your client becomes a regular.

Examples of Transference

In an attempt to demystify transference, here are some very simple examples:

  • You meet someone at a party who reminds you of a favorite aunt and you find yourself feeling warmly towards this new acquaintance.

  • A client who has difficulty depending on others may find themselves feeling resentful, jealous, or angry towards their therapist without realizing there is a connection between these feelings and the therapist’s upcoming vacation.

  • A client who fears disapproval and rejection notices that they suddenly find themselves worried about judgment or criticism from their therapist when they start to talk about a certain topic or feel a particular feeling.

  • A perpetually single client prone to distrusting people may begin to view the therapist with suspicion as their relationship deepens.

  • A client who struggles with anger and hostility may find themselves similarly struggling with anger and hostility toward the therapist.

From: http://cbtvspsychodynamic.com/transferenceexamples.html

The problem with transference is that it distorts the healing and often delays insights as the client continues to project their past issues onto you as their therapist.  Although in Reiki our relationship with clients tends to be more hands off, if we become more familiar with them, their is a chance this form of projection begins to occur.  Often it can occur from your perspective as we are not trained psychotherapists, and this can be an even greater danger of distorting our clients viewpoint with our opinions.  for example, if you begin to feel your client ‘needs you’ or that you are the only one who ‘understands’ your client, you are in danger of transferring your own need for admiration or attention onto your client.  This is very unhelpful to your client who simply becomes dependent on you.

The ideal scenario is to take care not to judge or advise your clients.  Reiki takes care of your client better than you can ever hope to.  Remember to remain detached – this is not the same as cold.  Detached can be intensely warm and loving, but in a way that makes the client see they are empowered to make their own decisions and come to their own internal knowing.

For me, the clincher is when a client asks me what they should do.  If I feel the need to tell them, I am off the mark.  If I know I don’t need to guide them as they are perfectly capable of finding the answers for themselves, I am spot on.

What guidelines do you give yourself when treating a regular client to keep you on track?