So… Boundaries

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. 

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8 thoughts on “So… Boundaries

  1. I wish I had set my boundaries from the beginning. I suffered through months and months of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear because I didn’t suggest to my psychologist the need for boundaries. In fact, I don’t think I even really knew what “boundaries” meant until after I started doing more reading on psych websites! Anyway, I’m happy to know that you were able to set those boundaries! I’m now more able to open up to S and ask for things that I need and our boundaries are now a little clearer than they were before but of course, there are still things I’m sure I need to discuss with him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks 🙂 it was a difficult conversation that got harder as the weeks went on, but it was so necessary.

      We’ve uncovered the fact that I don’t really care what the rules are (sometimes to the point where I sacrifice my needs to abide by the rules) but that they can’t change – it’s the change that really bothers me.

      So lots to work on, here. But it’s good. Thank you for your comment!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think she meant no super advanced payments – like, no monthly chunks of money. As in paying one or two sessions is fine but not 4+. She doesn’t like taking massive amounts of money. I think? We didn’t explore that one further due to the fact it doesn’t apply to me 🙂

      Like

  2. This sounds like such a great conversation! I definitely agree that the definition of “emergency” is arbitrary and needs to thus be well-defined within each therapeutic relationship. So glad you two were able to have this important conversation.

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    • It was so important and I think so good for both of us – emergency can be defined in so many different ways. I was glad to have her feedback and to define this set of boundaries.

      One of the lessons I’ve learned from having so many therapists

      Liked by 1 person

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