Boundaries in Counselling

Why are boundaries in counselling important?

One of the key values of the psychodynamic approach is the clear focus on the importance of boundaries in counselling.  It may not be necessary to say too much about the importance of boundaries in the sessions themselves, but in my work I try to be attentive to boundary issues.  For example, I take time in the early stages of the counselling to work out a weekly appointment time that reliably suits my clients and myself.  Similarly I try to be clear about working out what fee is appropriate and affordable.  These things are more than hygiene and house keeping, they are making the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship clear.boundaries in counselling

It is often the case that people have experienced problems in life in relation to a lack of a sense of a satisfactory boundary around them.  Often people will contact me when there has been a failure of a boundary in their lives.  So they may have just experienced being made redundant, or have found out that a partner has betrayed them and had an affair.  They may have experienced a bereavement recently, or a bereavement from long ago may have cast a shadow over their lives.  In all of these cases we can think that the problem they are trying to come to terms with has fundamentally disrupted the boundaries of their lives.

If for example you had the kind of start in life that left you feeling insignificant instead of chosen and valuable, then the foundations of your being may be shaky, and most likely your boundaries will be shaky too.

Psychodynamic counselling and boundaries

Psychodynamic counselling works to correct the flaws in those foundations. It does this by co-creating with the client a predictable working relationship that can throw light upon the shaky elements and experiences, and in doing so create something that can be valued. This then can become a model for other valuable relationships.  Gradually the client can come to value and internalise the boundaries as part of the working relationship, and as they do so we tend to find that they face other areas of their lives in more boundaried ways too.

Where psychodynamic work has an advantage for clients over other models is that psychodynamic therapists train to be aware of changes that occur in the areas of boundaries in the therapeutic relationship.  This means that we are not just left trying to grasp issues that have gone wrong in the past or with other people.  It means that we are mindful of when the boundaries are challenged of breached in the work.  So for example, though someone coming late to a session might be an ordinary thing to put down to chance, if it becomes a pattern then we would want to ask about it.  By doing so we find a way to explore and if necessary challenge the way people live and function in relation to their work with us.

How I work

I work to develop a sense of how life is for you and that includes how boundaries in counselling are for you, by doing so we work together to shed light on the areas you are trying to repair and strengthen.  Call me for a free telephone consultation to discuss how my work might help you.