Friday, September 26, 2008

80% of therapy is boundry negotiation

First the percent isn't scientific, it's what my professor said and I do not know where it was from. However, this week I have "felt" it. I have been learning a lot in school and in counseling clients about boundaries. It seems a person's boundaries and how they respond to the boundaries set on them, not only tells me a lot about how their personality is organized, but working on boundaries is also a way to growth.

In spite of this, I do not like boundary negotiation with clients. For example, lets say I set up an appointment with a client, they don't show, they don't email to let me know they are not coming, they don't email afterwords to let me know they didn't come, but will next week. Then I have to draw a boundary and put them back on the waiting list to reapply. If they appear in dire need of help thinking they have an appointment, unless they are suicidal I have to tell them to wait and reschedule because I didn't know they were coming. This makes logical sense. It's good for me to see how they respond and helps me learn what they may feel regarding boundaries in their families. But I find it difficult to do when I am standing in front of them.

So then I need to process my own conceptualization of boundaries, time, limits, and my reaction to them. Can I only have them put on me but not give them? When is it ok to blow them off and when is it not? What does - how I see boundaries, due dates, appointments, and time - say about how my personality is organized?

Good times, I tell you! You may want to reflect on your reaction to boundaries in your own life. Eg. Do you do anything passive aggressive when you face a limit you don't like (e.g., A parking ticket) or do you scream at the injustice, or do you just take all boundaries and never negotiate. O the things a counselor could learn about you.


Random Reflections said...

Such an interesting post. It can be so easy when dealing with someone in a professional capacity be that a counsellor, teacher, shop assistant or whatever that they have their own take on life, dealing with things or pressures. We often expect people to perform their role without taking account of their own frailties or way of dealing with things.

I shall have to ponder what I would do in answer to your questions.

S said...

Exactly! I'm working in a public service position that involves case management. Whenever I have to enforce the rules, I find myself feeling guilty and apologetic. On the other hand, I feel alive with the power to "put people in their place." Still trying to figure out the balance.