Yesterday, during therapy, I made a point of finding out and ensuring I know A’s boundaries. It was so important to me to know that if I’m going to do my best to trust her, that she has these boundaries under control.
Because if inside the sessions I’m going to delve into internal chaos I need to know she’s holding the walls. I need to be sure that no matter what emotion I’m throwing at them, that those walls are made of brick, not sand.
I’m about to tell you all about her boundaries but it’s important to remember that they are just that, hers. If you have or are a therapist yours might be different and they should be because you are not A and your therapist is not A and you are not me.
We started by reiterating the 5 reasons she would leave me. Circumstances out of either of our control, if she felt like she could no longer help me, if I became violent or aggressive, if I failed to recognize her time and show up, and if I stalked her.
Pretty normal, although I admit to real problems with the ‘circumstances out of our control’ bit.
Next, email and phone. I know she’s ok with email and she will respond if she feels it is necessary – even if it’s just to address the fact that maybe we need an extra session.
Phone, however, was confusing for me. She said, originally, you can call in an emergency. But that word can mean SO many different things. And I brought this up because I’ve had therapists treat emergencies like only call when you’re suicidal or call when you need connection.
I have to admit I loved A’s explanation. She said “call when you don’t feel you can continue safely, or if you may cause a major disruption to those around you.” So helpful. She also said she would get back to me when she can, and that it’s not an emergency service.
I told her I don’t care what the boundaries are, but I want to know them. And that they cannot change.
I grew up in a home where the rules constantly changed. What was and was not allowed was not consistent. I learned that sometimes you were right and sometimes you were very wrong even if you were doing the same thing.
A asked what was so helpful about the boundaries and what drove this conversation and I told her that I needed to know. I needed to know what the rules were. And that it was helpful to have her so steady.
I then asked about any other boundaries.
She said that she doesn’t care if I Google her but she can’t Google me. She said two sessions a week max is what she believes is the best, therapeutically, and any more warrants a discussion – but other than that it’s up to the client. That gifts are ok as long as they aren’t big and she limits physical touch to a hug at the end of a session. She also said she doesn’t accept advance payments.
This was all SO incredibly helpful for me… especially as I face an incredibly difficult next few months (I’m getting married in my hometown with lots of people who have previously played a.. negative (even if they meant well)… role in my life).
And after establishing these boundaries I feel much more prepared. Let’s hope she can keep them as steadily as I believe she can.