Problems with Boundaries

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011, Written by jackrosenberger

This blog post is going out to all fellow therapists!  The advice I gave earlier it appears I need to listen to as well.  Especially when one’s ability to provide life changing care is involved.  Unfortunately, when a therapist works with young people (these young people can be as old as 40!), they must work and communicate with the family as well.

The family MUST be involved in some kind of treatment themselves or else the dynamics that created the dysfunction in the young person in the beginning will most likely continue in some form.  The most frustrating aspect of this kind of work is when the parents will refuse to cooperate with the treatment, or even communicate with the clinician.  In these cases, one can conceive of the work in two ways:

1.  The work will always be sabotaged by the family, and therefore it’s best for the therapist get out of the case entirely.

2.  If this is the family the young person has, then perhaps one has to ally with the young person all the more.

In this way, one has to tolerate and accommodate for the “slings and arrows” that the family can muster as they will be determined to diminish and devalue the work both of you are doing!  Nonetheless, IF one can withstand situations like this, then one might be genuinely be engaged in a truly important work.

One is providing the young person with an alternative to the script that the family of origin might want the young person to internalize.  In this case, the therapist might have a moral imperative to stick with an individual, no matter how difficult it might be to tolerate the devaluation that occurs at the hands of those that made the young person sick.  It is times like these that one needs to listen to Stephen Sondheim’s “No one is Alone” on continuous loop!

I am confident that I’m not the only clinician to find himself (or herself) in such dilemmas.  But such is the price we pay for the privilege of beholding the miracle of healing that brave people bestow upon us like a gift of which we are unworthy.  Thus, if one is in this situation, perhaps it has a deeper meaning even for the clinician.  And thus, it becomes all the more important for us to listen to our own spirits to maintain the wisdom and energy necessary for this work.

Comments are closed.