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Chapter 4

Posted by pegasus on June 8, 2005, at 8:46:17

In reply to Chapter 3.The Therapist's Power, posted by Dinah on May 29, 2005, at 9:48:25

Is anyone ready to talk about chapter 4 yet? Sorry if I'm rushing you.

This chapter is probably the reason that I originally bought the book. Boundaries are so confusing when you first get into therapy. No one explains them completely ahead of time. And if they do discuss them, it's so confusing to understand the reasons behind them. This is where I had the most trouble with my ex-T, and where this book helped me the most.

And then there's the titillation factor with this chapter. Freud took clients on vacation with him? Ferenczi let clients sit on his lap and kiss him? Lazarus invites them to play tennis with him and his wife? Hoo ha! It's appalling, and appealing all at the same time. I think, "If only!" and then, "Thank god I didn't get caught up in that mess!"

Beyond that, though, I loved the section on Basic Rules. Finally, someone lays it all out. And, then right away I notice that my ex-T violated some of these. Rule: Should not self disclose particularly intimate material. He told me when he got a vasectomy, for heavens sake! But he was making a point (no, not that one) that was relevant to my therapy, so it was ok.

But the really great part of this chapter is the section on Thinking about Boundaries and the Symbolic Meaning of Boundaries. Once I read this, I could really make sense of the confusing therapy relationship a lot better. I finally was able to see the boundaries as protecting me, and as facilitating my therapy. I think the key is in asking myself, why would I want these boundaries to shift? What do these boundaries represent to me? And then I start to see them as valuable to *me* and not just protecting my T.

It makes me think of the time I asked my T if I could hug him, fully expecting that he'd say yes. It just seemed natural within the moment. But instead, he said that although he had the same impulse, he wanted to talk about it first, because we'd never touched each other in any way, and adding in a physical dimension was a big deal. At the time I felt misunderstood, and incorrectly suspected of bad motives. But after reading this chapter, I could see that he was respecting the potential symbolism behind the hug, and the power that it could have for me. Basically, he was being a good therapist.

Oh, but too bad I couldn't appreciate that at the time!

I'll be interested to see what comes up for the rest of you around boundaries.





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