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Therapeutic Boundaries Between the Client and the Therapist

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Added on  2020-02-19

Therapeutic Boundaries Between the Client and the Therapist

   Added on 2020-02-19

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THERAPEUTIC BOUNDARIES IN RELATION TO TRANSFERENCE 2THERAPEUTIC BOUNDARIES IN RELATION TO TRANSFRENCE Counseling within the mental health service requires maintenance of therapeutic boundaries between the client and the therapist. Therapeutic boundaries are the expected psychological and social distance between the therapist and the client[ CITATION Gut13 \l 1033 ]. It involves issues such as the therapist’s self-disclosure, involvement with the client outside the office, the length of sessions, touch and exchanging gifts. Transference and countertransference are concepts that come up during therapy and it is necessary to maintain healthy boundaries when they arise. Sigmund Freud described countertransference as an unconscious phenomenon whereby the therapists’ emotions are influenced by a client and causes the therapist to react in a certain way[ CITATION Kri13 \l 1033 ]. On the other hand, transference refers to a phenomenon whereby the client transfers their feelings about a significant person in theirlives to the therapist. These feelings are usually manifested in many forms such as hatred, mistrust, rage and extreme dependence on the therapist. This paper will focus on exploring the therapeutic boundaries needed when counselling within the mental health service in relation to the concepts of transference and countertransference. One of therapeutic boundaries involves the therapist’s self-disclosure. Therapists have thechoice to share their own feelings and experiences with their clients but with some moderation.Excessive self-disclosure may lead the therapist to spend a lot of time focusing on their feelings and experiences and deny the client the chance to have their issues handled[ CITATION Der13 \l 1033 ]. Excessive disclosure on the therapist’s side may also blur their ability to recognize the presence of countertransference and generally interfere with the therapeutic process since it will be based on the therapist’s feelings and not the client’s. However, when therapists establish healthy boundaries in regards to self-disclosure, they are able
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THERAPEUTIC BOUNDARIES IN RELATION TO TRANSFERENCE 3to share their own experiences with their clients and they may use countertransference consciously to understand the differences between their experiences and those of their clients in order to ensure the therapeutic process is objective[ CITATION Hen14 \l 1033 ]. Moderate self-disclosure can enable the therapist to identify the countertransference and help the client in understanding their issues better and it also makes therapists more empathetic since they understand the client’s situation [ CITATION Hen14 \l 1033 ]. The therapists are also able to recognize transference in the client when they give more time for the client to talk about their feelings and experiences (Brown 2017). It is important to recognize whenever any unconscious countertransference occurs by having healthy boundaries set when it comes to self-disclosure(Butcher, Minieka and Hooley 2013). Involvement with the client outside the office is another therapeutic boundary that is important within the mental health service. The relationship between a client and a therapist is supposed to be strictly within the counselling environment. One of the common ways in which transference and countertransference is usually manifested is through an erotic attraction between the therapist and the client[ CITATION Fue13 \l 1033 ]. The client may want to initiate dates and extra meetings outside the therapeutic timeline in order to fulfill the feelings that result from the transference. It is important for the therapists to recognize the transference in their patients so that they can be aware of the motives their clients might have and even how the clients might be eliciting a countertransference in them. By limiting the involvement with clients outside the office, the therapist is able to avoid other ethical problems such as dual relationships and romantic relationships with their clients. In addition, they avoid encouraging the clients to dwell on the feelings that result from transference such as erotic attractions and instead focus on issues that will promote the wellbeingof the client.
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THERAPEUTIC BOUNDARIES IN RELATION TO TRANSFERENCE 4Extreme dependence of the client on the therapist can also be as a result of transference. For example, a client who experiences social isolation may make the therapist the central part of their social life, such a client might want to constantly interact with the therapist outside the office as a way to fulfill their social wellbeing. It is important for the therapist to establish their stand on maintaining a professional relationship within the counselling environment and avoid giving the client any indications contrary to this[ CITATION Cor15 \l 1033 ]. Countertransference may also lead the therapist to be over involved in the client’s situation. Once the client has shared their problem with the therapist, the therapist might remember a similar occasion that occurred in their lives and it may trigger outrage in them. For example, when the client is a rape victim and the therapist also had a similar incident happen to them or someone close to them it brings back the negative feelings that resulted from that incident and it may provoke the therapistto be either under or overinvolved with the client. Because of this, they may want to make an extra effort beyond the therapeutic counselling process to try and help their clients. This constitutes involvement with the client outside the counselling set up that may eventually compromise the outcome of the therapeutic process. In a case where the therapists considers it necessary to intervene in the patients situation, they have to clearly explain to the client their reasons for intervening to avoid misinterpretations that may arise [ CITATION Pop16 \l 1033 ].Maintaining a therapeutic boundary that prevents involvement outside the therapeutic relationship can help the therapist in dealing with issues arising from transference and countertransference henceensuring the credibility of the mental health service. However, there are some unique circumstances that may necessitate an interaction with the client outside the counselling session. For example, when the client suddenly falls ill and the therapist goes to visit him at the hospital to help him deal with the vulnerability of the situation. In such a situation, the
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