Laura Hunter Therapies

Why Can’t I Hug My Therapist?

In the journey of therapy, moments of profound revelation, comfort, and emotional breakthrough can often inspire a deep sense of gratitude or connection towards your therapist. It’s natural, then, that some may feel the impulse to express these feelings physically through a hug. However, the boundaries set within the therapeutic relationship often preclude such physical expressions. Why is this the case? This blog post aims to explore the complexities behind the urge to hug your therapist, how therapists are trained to navigate these situations, and why maintaining certain boundaries, like avoiding hugs, is essential for effective therapy.


Therapy is a unique relational experience that fosters a safe space for emotional exploration and healing. The therapeutic relationship is built on trust, empathy, and professionalism, which can sometimes create a sense of closeness or attachment. It’s not uncommon for clients to feel a strong bond with their therapist, leading to the desire to express gratitude or connection physically. But the therapeutic space operates under a set of professional boundaries designed to protect the integrity of the therapeutic process. Let’s delve into why those boundaries exist, starting with why someone might feel the urge to hug their therapist.

The Urge to Hug Your Therapist

There are a couple of reasons you might feel compelled to hug your therapist, including:

  1. Emotional Milestones: Therapy often involves navigating through deep, personal issues, and achieving milestones can evoke strong emotional responses. In such moments, a hug can feel like a natural way to express relief, gratitude, or a sense of accomplishment.
  2. Human Connection: Humans naturally seek physical touch as a form of comfort and connection. In the context of therapy, where emotional vulnerabilities are shared, the desire for a hug can emerge as a longing for human connection and reassurance.

Therapist’s Handling of the Situation

Your therapist should be trained in how to handle this situation with grace and compassion, for example through:

  1. Kindness and Boundaries: Therapists understand the emotional dynamics of therapy and are trained to respond with kindness while enforcing professional boundaries. They might offer verbal affirmations or explain the importance of maintaining a certain physical distance to uphold the therapeutic relationship’s integrity and effectiveness.
  2. Alternative Forms of Support: Therapists can provide support and reassurance through words, empathetic listening, and other non-physical means, ensuring the client feels heard, valued, and understood without crossing physical boundaries.

Reasons Against Hugging in Therapy

  1. Maintaining Professionalism: The therapist-client relationship is a professional one, first and foremost. Maintaining physical boundaries helps to preserve this professionalism, ensuring the focus remains on the client’s needs and therapeutic goals.
  2. Transference and Countertransference: Physical touch, including hugging, can complicate the therapeutic process by introducing elements of transference (where clients project feelings onto their therapist) or countertransference (where therapists project feelings onto their clients). These projections can hinder objective support and treatment.
  3. Setting a Precedent: Allowing hugs could set a precedent that might affect the therapist’s ability to maintain consistent boundaries with all clients, potentially leading to misunderstandings or feelings of favouritism.


While the impulse to hug your therapist may stem from genuine feelings of gratitude or connection, it’s important to recognise the value of the boundaries that define the therapeutic relationship. These boundaries are in place not to create distance but to foster a safe, professional environment conducive to healing and growth. If you have questions about the therapeutic process, or if you’re seeking to explore therapy in a way that respects these essential boundaries, I invite you to book a discovery call with me. Together, we can navigate the path towards healing with respect, understanding, and professionalism at the forefront of our journey. Remember, the strength of therapy lies in the ability to explore our deepest emotions while respecting the framework designed to protect both client and therapist.

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