Attracted Clients

Attracted Clients

Curt and Katie talk about what to do when your clients report sexual or romantic transference. We look at how to explore these feelings, how to set boundaries, and what you need to be cautious about.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

In this episode we talk about:

  • How normal it is that clients become attracted to their therapists.
  • The level of safety and intimacy in therapy can be so attractive to clients that they become romantically attracted to their therapist.
  • Examples of how this type of attraction can show up in the room
  • The caution to wait to jump to “Are you hitting on me?”
  • Looking at what is appropriate and inappropriate, especially given cultural differences
  • How supervisors can advise their supervisees in these situations
  • The difference between a misunderstood connection and physical attraction – and thoughts on how to handle each one
  • How physical appearance can impact the pre-treatment expectations
  • A study on Attractive Business Women – the idea of the Femme Fatale
  • Looking at how being gorgeous might impact your clinical work
  • Be authentically yourself, with the understanding of what societal bias could come up
  • When the clients start responding to the therapist as an individual, rather than the therapist or the therapy relationship – looking at transference/counter-transference
  • How hard it can be to talk about the client’s sexual attraction in the therapy room
  • Holding space – acceptance with clear boundaries
  • Making sure to address safety
  • Exploring the interplay between emotional intimacy and the expectation for sexual intimacy
  • How to set the boundaries in the psychotherapy relationship when attraction has been disclosed by the therapist
  • The caution to avoid shaming the client and how to do so
  • The importance of consultation during these types of situations
  • Factors that can impact these types of interactions in the treatment room
  • The safety factors and risks to be aware of, when facing sexual or romantic transference

Our Generous Sponsor:

Thanks again to our sponsor Katie Read! Katie helps therapists grow and they OUTgrow their practices. If you’re in GROW mode, she can help you grow faster by knowing exactly how to create your therapist website to get the most possible calls with her two courses, Client Machine and Website Whisperer! If you’re ready to OUTgrow your office, Katie helps clinicians know the exact right steps to add big extra income streams in coaching, consulting, or courses! Check out for more information.

Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links.

Article: Attractive businesswomen viewed as less trustworthy ‘femmes fatales’

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Therapy Reimagined 2019: Sign up here to get notified when the details are released.

Our consultation services:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is a Board Member at Large for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, a Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Adjunct Faculty at Pepperdine University, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant. As a helping professional for two decades, she’s navigated the ups and downs of our unique line of work. She’s run her own solo therapy practice, designed innovative clinical programs, built and managed large, thriving teams of service providers, and consulted hundreds of helping professionals on how to build meaningful AND sustainable practices. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Group


Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

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