Dr Wendy’s Blog

Helpful and informative posts to add to the lives of my readers

Dr Wendy’s Blog

Through Dr Wendy’s blog I aim to provide helpful and informative posts that add to the personal and professional lives of my readers.

With over 30 years as a health professional (clinical, education and research), I have a strong interest in better education and training for all people working with people. I’m passionate about things like Professional Boundaries, Nursing, Training, Professional Supervision, links between childhood trauma and mental illness and workplace bullying. I’ve been training in Psychodrama for over 20 years  – some might say a life-long learning – and I’m committed to using experiential learning in the work I do with individuals and groups.

I also have the great honour of being invited to regularly present and facilitate at national & international conferences on the topics of boundaries, bullying and mental health in the workplace.

I hope that you’ll take a few moments to see what I have to say, and I encourage you to respond with your comments. I’d love to hear your opinions and insights on the topics I discuss here, to have you a part of this conversation…

To read a post, click on either the title of the post, or the ‘more’ link at the end of an entry below.

If you’d like to subscribe to our blog feed, click the RSS icon here to receive our entries in your feed reader:

 

Ep.3 Professional Boundaries Framework

Posted by on 9 Dec, 2019 in Boundaries, Featured, Podcast, self-care | 0 comments

Episode 3 – The professional Boundaries framework. Where possible keep in the Zone of Helpfulness

New Professional Boundaries Podcast

In Episode 3, Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD from Davaar Consultancy shares another Professional Boundaries scenario and ways to identify when a professional’s behaviour risks boundary crossings or violations, or if a transgression might already have occurred.

Listen as Dr. Wendy explains the Professional Boundary Framework model she uses in her workshops to help participants get a visceral feeling of the Professional Boundaries continuumThis episode introduces powerful and specific questions to ask while examining situations that are ripe for crossings or Professional Boundaries Frameworktransgressions and delves deeper into the reasons that they occur. The discussion of Red flags continues in this episode.

This is the third part of a dialogue that be will be continued in the following episodes. Use the links above to subscribe, or click the play button to listen.

There are 6 episodes planned in this first season of the Professional Boundaries Podcast and we hope you’ll be back to enjoy and learn from each of them. If you’ve ever wondered about your own boundaries in your Professional role, or been alerted about the risks of crossings or violations, this podcast will help you learn what to watch for, and ways to stay out the danger zones.

Dr. Wendy McIntosh welcomes both your interest and curiosity. Send Wendy questions at wendy@davaar.com.au or via Twitter, Instagram or Linked In

In this podcast series, Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD shares insights and strategies about developing and maintaining professional boundaries. Professional Boundaries are not limited to the clinical or therapeutic arena. If you are in a professional role – a teacher, support worker, police officer, a prison officer, council worker, hairdresser. If you are a volunteer or belong to a theatre group, a choir, a sports club, there will be something in this podcast for you and the relationships you have with others. Setting boundaries in our life is necessary for our emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical well being. Setting boundaries is about our safety.

Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD

Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD

Since 2005 Wendy has been developing her knowledge and interest in the area of professional boundaries. Wendy delivers workshops on boundaries in Australia (where she now lives) and Internationally when invited to do so. She is continually integrating learning and insights she gains from the work she does in professional boundaries. Wendy comes from a nursing, and predominately psychiatric nursing, background.

Wendy consistently receives feedback on her passion, knowledge, and creativity as a presenter and facilitator. Enjoy exploring boundaries in this podcast series as Wendy takes you on your own reflective journey on your professional boundaries.

References:

Gutheil, T. G., & Brodsky, A. (2008). Preventing boundary violations in clinical practice. The Guildford Press: New York.
Quote from Plato – https://www.brainyquote.com/authors/plato-quotes

Music clips in this podcast:
“Perspectives” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com) &
“Middle Earth ” by Jason Shaw (https://audionautix.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Transcript: Podcast Three – The professional boundary framework – where possible keep in the Zone of Helpfulness

Scenario
She lived and worked in a small town.
She was only six months into her role as a support worker
She had lived in the community for 5 years.
She was aware of the organisation’s code of conduct which had a section on boundaries.
She had read the document, she had assessed that she had a good understanding of the content.
She was surprised then when her team leader asked to see her, a complaint had been made against her.
The complaint had been made by the daughter of a customer she was seeing. The complaint stated that the support worker had got too close to the complainant’s mother, the complainant stated “she (the support worker) is spending more time with my mother than is required. Now my mother makes comments to her like “you are just like a daughter to me, dear”.

Welcome to this Podcast series – Professional Boundaries, Your safety, your wellbeing. I am Wendy Mcintosh from Davaar Consultancy and I am delighted that you are joining me on another journey of exploration, revelation and for some, consolidation, on the theme of professional boundaries. This is our third episode in a series of six. Each episode focuses on a different aspect of professional boundaries and aims to extend your understanding of professional boundaries. Further, the podcast explores ways in which Professional Boundaries can assist you in your work and perhaps even in your everyday life. Feedback from participants who have completed training with me, share how insights and learning they gained about professional boundaries has assisted them with boundaries in their personal relationships.

I would love to have your input through questions, scenarios to explore, reflections from each podcast. One of my aims for these podcasts is to have you engaged in this process with me. I know from experience that having discussions about boundaries and what it means for us in the work and services we provide is an important step in assisting us understand motivations for our actions. Contact details are provided at the end of this podcast.

The beginning is the most important part of the work – Plato
This episode focuses on the foundation stone of the Professional Boundary Framework. I really enjoy exploring the framework in the boundary workshops I conduct because I use an experiential process to assist participants. Using different colours of materials I present the framework as a sculpture on the floor. This means that I and participants can walk up and down the framework and have a visceral experience of where they might be on the framework in terms of work they are doing with patients, and or collegial relationships. In the invite to folks to experience the framework, I invite them to be curious about what might take them out of the Zone of Helpfulness into the continuum of an over or under involved relationship with the other person. In exploring the framework through action I also ask participants to be aware of red flags and also strategies to assist them to return to the Zone of Helpfulness.

Major benefits I see to understanding the boundary framework in the context of professional relationships is that we can use it as –

a risk assessment framework (we can pose the question – where on the continuum am I)
an awareness framework – (we can pose many curious questions – what / who led me here?)
a solutions framework – (ok this is where I am – what do I need to get back to the zone of
helpfulness)

I am thinking that it would be useful to describe the framework to assist you have a picture of it as I invite you to wander up and down exploring the two scenarios presented at the beginning of the podcast, revisiting my scenario from podcast two – Caring enough to put my life on the line and also reflecting on relationships you have with patients and or colleagues. For an image of the boundary framework similar to what I use in the workshops I deliver, you can visit our website and in the podcast section, you will be able to see the framework. For the purpose of this podcast, I will explain it as though we are in a car driving.

Imagine you are at an intersection on a road, in boundary land this intersection is the Zone of Helpfulness also referred to as the Safety Zone and Therapeutic Relationship Zone. If you turn left you are going into the over-involved area, if you turn right you are going into the under-involved area. In this road, the interaction is actually the safest place in which to practice. At either end of the left hand or right-hand turn, there is a big road sign that says illegal. We definitely do not want to end up there. As we look in either direction what we see is that the roads are an ever darkening shade of grey until the endpoint here the word illegal is black.

If I turn left into the over-involved road – some commonly reported behaviours will be demonstrated – spending unpaid time with a client, lending a client money, interacting with the client on social media, giving gifts to the client that could include, food, clothing, tickets to the movies. On the over-involved road, the professional may spend a lot of time thinking about the client and how to make things better for them, perhaps there is some magical thinking about how to make their circumstances better for them. Better – as perceived by the professional.

If I turn right onto the under-involved road common experiences are a disinterest in the client, talking about them in negative tones, use of pet names – such as pet, darling, dear. An emotional distancing that is cold and rigid. There may also be neglect and abandonment of the client’s needs.

There are four large billboards which have important messages for us to consider in terms of professional relationships. Each are a guide to assist the professional reflect on the context of their role. These billboards are visible on both the over and under involved roads.

The largest billboard is World considerations – such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The next billboard is Federal and state legislation on safety and professional regulatory expectations (laws relevant to the countries in which you live and work)

Another billboard represents organisational policies, procedures, and guidelines with professional boundary expectations in there.

The final billboard represents the job description and expectations of the professional role

These four billboards (represented as circles in the image we present on our website), and all they contain, form the CONTEXT of what is required in the professional relationship between a professional and a client. Be that as an employee such as a support worker, teacher, police officer, council worker, health professional or an independent practitioner such as a counsellor or health professional.

There is another element to the road – that is a pathway that also goes left and right form the intersection. The pathway is uneven. This pathway symbolises the actions and speech content of the professional and the interpretation/understanding that the client has, about what was said, what occurred. Remember from podcast two my assessment that what I did was a careless thoughtless act, the patient’s interpretation – someone cared enough about her to put their life on the line.

Let me explore that idea of interpretation of actions with some further discussion on the scenario from this podcast. I shall begin with some context.

The customer was in her 70s. She was known to the support worker because they lived in the same community. Prior to the commencement of the professional role their interactions had been brief community interactions when they met at social events. The only family member the lady had was her daughter who lived in another town and could only visit her mother every month when she would stay overnight with her. The support worker’s paid role was to visit the client twice a week to take her shopping, ensure she had enough food and to help her prepare meals if required.
As the professional relationship developed – the support worker found that she looked forward to spending time with the client. The time they spent together extended into unpaid time – the support worker would visit the customer in her own time. She started to take meals that she had prepared, to the customer.

When the team leader inquired as to the extra time and meals provided the support worker responded “well she is so lonely, I just did what any caring person would do. The customer always tells me how much she enjoys my visits”.

It is so easy for two completely different interpretations, two different meanings, two different stories to be created in a single act, in a single sentence, in a pattern of behaviour.

When the team leader talked with the customer – she responded “she is very nice to me, other support workers have not done that, come to visit me or bring me meals. She is like my daughter – that’s what my daughter does for me”. The customer also made another comment to the team leader which amplified a red flag for the team leader. The comment was “I feel so sorry for her. You know she lost her own mother just over a year ago”.

So I now pose some questions to you –
did a transgression occur and if so was it a crossing or a violation?
was it over or under involved?
– or both?

When we briefly revisit the definitions discussed in podcast two, we are reminded that a crossing occurs once and is generally considered to be thoughtless or inadvertent. A violation is a pattern of behaviour where the needs of the professional supersede the needs of the client.

Based on those definitions we could assess that in the scenario – the boundary transgression was a violation. Was the transgression over or under involved, or indeed both? Well, that question may take some time to discuss. So we are going to pause here to consider this very important question – was the behaviours of the support worker over or under involved or both?

I have learnt through the hundreds of sessions I have conducted with professionals, through scenarios presented and explored in the workshops I conduct, that an over-involved professional boundary actually informs us that it is the person who is over-involved, not the professional. Hang in with me whilst I explain further.

If I am acting in the requirements and expectations of my professional role in the context that I am employed then I cannot actually be professionally over-involved, however, I absolutely can be personally over-involved. I have become personally over-invested in the person and in the relationship I have with the other person.

Now, this is where I really appreciate the complexities that are professional boundaries – if I am personally over-involved then there actually is a very good chance that at the same time I am professionally under involved. The personal aspect of the relationship has become so important to me that I stop noticing what I need to be noticing in my professional role, the role that I am being paid to do.

In all examples of where I have worked with individuals due to over-involved transgressions when we explore the under-involved aspect of service provision – whilst hard and confronting to hear – individuals appreciate that the professional objectively switched down or off and the emotional personal got going.

You could use the framework right now to further understand the complexity of being personally over-involved and professional under involved by reflecting on a situation from your professional role, historically or currently. It is always beneficial to consider an over-involved scenario and then identify – am I also under involved here.

Place yourself on the framework – how far away from the intersection – that safe Zone, that Zone of Helpfulness – have you travelled with your client. Look back and notice that the further away from the intersection you are, the further away you will also be from providing the care, the service that you are being paid to do – thus, you are also under involved.

Context is important.

If we consider those four important boundary questions from podcast two we can also get further data:

1. What was the intent or purpose of the support worker’s actions?
First base to provide care for the customer (remember she was also being paid to provide care within the remit of her paid role)
Burrow down – she felt better because of the extra services she provided. She also liked to hear comments from the customer that no other support worker had shown so much care, that made her feel wanted.

2. Whose needs were being met?
First base the customers – burrow down – the support worker felt needed by the customer and that made her feel good, more significantly however was that being with the customer reminded her of being with her mother. Being with the customer she experienced a comfortable and familiar relationship. The professional’s emotional and psychological needs
were being met.

3. Was there other options for the support worker?
Yes many, however in order to allow any other options to present – the support worker would have had to have awareness that was she was doing did not meet her organisational code of conduct.

Had the support worker had an awareness of her actions she could have spoken with her TL before continuing on the journey she had started.

The support worker stated that she had understood the code of conduct content in terms of boundaries – yet her actions demonstrated this was not the case. She really was surprised to learn that not only had she transgressed the boundary – she had violated the boundary. Her prior understanding of boundary violation was that it must be close to or an actual illegal activity, such as fraud, assault, neglect. She thought that developing a sexual relationship would also be considered a violation. She had never contemplated that visiting the customer in her own time and providing meals would be considered a violation. For the organisation in which she worked, it was. Context is important.

4. What stopped her using another option?
In this scenario – a lack of awareness and not enough knowledge or experience to assist her to discern that her behaviour was a breach of her organisations expectations for her role. In a later podcast we will learn that personality features, relationship issues at home and or in the workplace, influence of drugs and or alcohol, workplace cultures of bullying, vicarious trauma and burnout can be influencing factors in terms of stopping individuals using options in the professional relationships they have with their clients.

It was clear when data was collected that the support worker had not acted out of malicious intent, she had however used the power of her role to get her own needs meet. She had not fully appreciated the organisational requirements regarding boundaries. At no time was she curious about her pattern of behaviour or what it might mean for the customer or her daughter, or indeed for herself as a support worker, her employer or her colleagues.

I am just going to let that seep in for a little while and at the same time introduce another element that is integral to the boundary framework, and that is Categories of Concern.

Wearing our Sherlock Holmes inquiring hat – I see that the categories of concern element invites us to ask further curious questions to assist us solidify was there a transgression and if so what kind.

The four categories of concern are:

Professional Role (or Therapeutic Role)
This refers to the job/role description and the context in which a person is employed. For some individuals, this will also require consideration of professional regulatory requirements.

Dual / Multiple relationships
Dual refers to having a professional relationship with a client and at the same time having a personal relationship. This can occur in two ways.
Firstly the initial relationship was service provider (professional) and service receiver (customer). The power dynamic exists – the professional has power the customer is vulnerable. Due to personal over-involvement, a secondary relationship develops (financial, sexual, friendship, service such as lawn mowing, car servicing, house painting). The professional is still been paid for providing a professional service and at the same time is conducting a dual relationship outside of working hours. Context is important here and it is important to clarify with the organisation which employs you and the professional group you belong to – what is the time frame for when a client is no longer considered a client.

The second dual relationship to consider is when there is a pre-existing relationship – family members, neighbours, sing in the same choir, play in the same football team and then one person becomes a client of the service to which the professional belongs. In such circumstances it is important that the professional discusses the pre-existing relationship with their team leader and look at options of service delivery – perhaps another person on the team can attend to the client. If that is not possible due to limited resources then the professional would have to talk with the client about “this new role relationship” they were about to commence and establish clear boundaries about that relationship. It would also be important that the professional is supported by the TL due to the increased complexity of the relationship.

Multiple relationships are also a reality in small communities where a professional providing services to the community such as as a teacher, health professional, police officer, etc also live in the community – and have other roles with a client such as neighbour, attend their children’s school activities together, attend the same drama group, shop in the same shops.

It is ok to be in multiple relationships, it is the reality when working and living in a small community. The responsibility for the professional is to always ask the questions what role am I in just now and how do I respond to that question, that invite, that feedback from the other person. It is always the responsibility of the professional to be clear with the individual that they are engaging with. It will always be the responsibility of the professional to maintain the boundary and reset limits when and if transgressions occur.

The third category of concern to consider is that of – Access to / disclosure of information
It is always good to ask questions such as – what is the minimal amount of information I require about the patient in order to provide the service I am paid to do?
Similarly, in terms of self-disclosure, it is important to consider the context of the role the professional is being paid to do in order to understand how much information they are required to disclose about themselves.

How much is not enough, how much is too much – will be directed by the context. The important questions to ask as professionals self disclose to the patient is:
What is the intent/purpose of this disclosure?
Whose needs are being met? (remembering that it is always important to burrow down to those uncomfortable responses. They are uncomfortable because they are actually wise guides for you)
Do I share this information with all patients or just this one?
If I just share with this patient – what is occurring in our relationship?
If I share similar self-disclosure with all patients – what meaning does that have for me?

I have learnt that in asking such questions the answer about whether or not a transgression is about to or has occurred is revealed.

The final category of concern is that of Giving and receiving gifts, services, money.
Gifts can range from a bag of mangoes to a piece of jewellery worth thousands of dollars, to a house.
Services – includes activities that are not part of the job description nor service requirement from the organisation. Services may occur during the paid time that a professional is with a client or in time away from working hours. Services include and are not limited to; washing cars, doing laundry,
car servicing, walking dogs, hairdressing, massages.
Money – might be in the form of a professional lending a client money or vice versa. Client may pay for bills that the professional require to be paid. Money may include being left a significant amount of money in a person’s will.

Context is important.

We can now use these categories to concern to further explore the scenario with the support worker and the customer.

In having contact with the customer in her own time – had the support worker stepped out of her professional role?
The answer is yes – there was nothing in her job description that said she had to have contact with the customer outside of work hours

Was the support worker operating in a dual relationship with the customer? – yes she was

Did the support worker disclose information that was not required within her job description?  Yes. One red flag being the information provided by the customer that the support worker’s mother had died a year previously and she knew this because the support worker frequently talked about her mother when they were together.

Was there a giving and receiving of gifts services, finances – yes the meals would be considered both a gift and a service.

So in this seemingly innocuous transgression – the support worker had actually triggered all four categories of concern.

Again I repeat she was not a malicious person. She did not act with intent to use the power of her role with the customer’s vulnerability. However, that is actually what had happened.

A consistent comment made to me during workshops on boundaries is – “I don’t want to become robotic, I don’t want to lose my humanity, I don’t want to stop caring about the clients I see”.

I allow the comments to sit for a while because they are an expression of genuine concern for participants. Then I bring forward the notion that if we actually understand and appreciate the complexities that are boundaries, when we stand firmly in the knowledge that each foundation stone provides to us, when we engage in robust discussions about boundaries with colleagues and in the organisations where we work – then individuals experience a more authentic, generous and respectful relationship with the other person or persons.

The foundation stone that really assists participants appreciate the wonder of this – is that of the reasons for transgressions. When participants understand the dynamics that influence the patterns of behaviours they have with clients, those ah-ha moments free them up to be much more discerning in those professional relationships.

Before I move towards the end of this podcast – I would like to invite you to start considering strategies that could perhaps have been of assistance to this support worker, to decrease the risk of her transgressing the boundary with the customer. Just as importantly, if you were her team leader what would your next steps be with her.

I see that it is essential in that first meeting between the professional and the client to discuss the context of the professional roles and to invite an exploration of the other person’s understanding of what is being said and what the expectations are. In subsequent meetings it is important that the professional checks in with the client that the understanding is clear, looking for red flags that may indicate that a boundary transgression is about to occur or indeed has occurred. Commentary from a client such as “you are just like a friend to me”, “you are the son I never had”, or “I wish all nurses were as kind as you” may indicate that curious questions are required about the relationship. Ah yes those red flags. I will be waving them loudly in the next podcast.

I have one further question to pose to you now that you have information about the boundary framework and categories of concern. When I stood between the patient and the wall, was my action a boundary-crossing or violation? Was the transgression over or under involved or both?

I will share more about my reflections of those questions with you in the next podcast.

You may recall in the previous podcast my reference to a list of needs that could be operating in the professional when they transgress a boundary. The list of needs include:

Physical including hugging, kiss on cheek, hand on should, hand on back
Psychological – where the professional self discloses personal information of themselves, where a professional may seek counsel from a customer and collegially where a team leader or supervisor over shares and seeks counsel from a junior member of staff
Emotional – where the client becomes the caretaker, counsellor for the professional
Financial – giving and receiving money, paying bills
Services – where the professional provides a service such as lawn mowing, car maintenance, hairdressing and does not charge the person rather they are conducting the service out of an act of kindness, it is also possible that the client may provide such service to the professional as a way of thanking them for their care
Spiritual – in such instances the professional directs the conversation towards a spiritual or religious nature even when the other person has clearly stated I do not want to discuss this, or where the professional prays with the client and that is not part of their job description
Sexual – where the professional engages in a sexual way with the client – through comments, touch, sexual engagement.

One book that I have found very useful, and to which I refer to many times is Preventing Boundary Violations in Clinical Practice by Gutheil and Brodsky. Whilst the focus of the book is on the therapeutic relationship, it contains many gems to help extend an exploration of boundaries and what it means in the professional encounter.

This podcast series has been written by myself, Wendy McIntosh. A big thank you to family and colleagues who hear each podcast before it is released and who provide valuable editing feedback. Thank you to Nikki Fryn, my internet guru who has done the production for these podcasts.

As I said earlier I would love to hear from you, our listeners, any questions, scenarios, reflections that you want to be discussed as part of a podcast session. There is still much to learn and each question and scenario posed provides opportunities to expand learning about professional boundaries. My email address is wendy@davaar.com.au, you can also contact me through our social media of twitter and instagram and LinkedIn. I would be delighted for podcasts to be as meaningful as possible to all who listen. So join with me.

The spelling for Davaar is D for Donald, A for awareness, V for victor, A for awareness, A for Alert, R for Red flags.

Thank you for listening. Let’s meet again in session four.

Ep.2 Definitions and language of Professional Boundaries

Posted by on 2 Dec, 2019 in Boundaries, Featured, Podcast, self-care | 0 comments

Episode 2 – Professional Boundaries: Your safety, your well-being

New Professional Boundaries Podcast

In the Professional Boundaries Podcast – Episode 2 – Definitions and language of Professional Boundaries, Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD from Davaar Consultancy shares a potential Professional Boundaries crossing scenario from her own nursing career, revealing some of the risks of crossings and transgressions when working with clients, customers, patients, and colleagues.

In this episode, boundary crossings are explained, and how they can so easily slide along the over-involvement and under-involvement continuum into transgressions and some of the reasons why. Wendy also begins the talk about Red flags – what they might signify, and how to spot them.Definitions and language Professional Boundaries poster

Listen as Dr. Wendy continues her discussion on maintaining Professional Boundaries, and why the context of the relationship is so important.  This is the second part of a dialogue that be will be continued in the following episodes. Use the links above to subscribe, or click the play button to listen.

There are 6 episodes planned in this first season of the Professional Boundaries Podcast and we hope you’ll be back to enjoy and learn from each of them. If you’ve ever wondered about your own Professional Boundaries behaviour, or been alerted about the risks of crossings or violations, this podcast will help you learn what to watch for, and ways to stay out the danger zones.

Dr. Wendy McIntosh welcomes both your interest and curiosity. Send Wendy questions at wendy@davaar.com.au

or via Twitter or Instagram

In this podcast series, Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD shares insights and strategies about developing and maintaining professional boundaries. Professional Boundaries are not limited to the clinical or therapeutic arena. If you are in a professional role – a teacher, support worker, police officer, a prison officer, council worker, hairdresser. If you are a volunteer or belong to a theatre group, a choir, a sports club, there will be something in this podcast for you and the relationships you have with others. Setting boundaries in our life is necessary for our emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical well being. Setting boundaries is about our safety.

Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD

Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD

Since 2005 Wendy has been developing her knowledge and interest in the area of professional boundaries. Wendy delivers workshops on boundaries in Australia (where she now lives) and Internationally when invited to do so. She is continually integrating learning and insights she gains from the work she does in professional boundaries. Wendy comes from a nursing, and predominately psychiatric nursing, background.

Wendy consistently receives feedback on her passion, knowledge, and creativity as a presenter and facilitator. Enjoy exploring boundaries in this podcast series as Wendy takes you on your own reflective journey on your professional boundaries.

References:

Gardner, A., & McCutcheon, H. (2015). A constructivist grounded theory study of mental health clinicians boundary maintenance.
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal, 23 (6), 30-33

Music clips in this podcast:
“Perspectives” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com) &
“Middle Earth ” by Jason Shaw (https://audionautix.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Transcript: Podcast Two – Definitions and language of professional boundaries 

Scenario She had a history of self-harming. Banging her head on walls was one form of self-harm that caused distress to the patient and to staff looking after her. One shift I was in a room with her, she was my allocated patient – she made a quick movement towards a wall. I also moved quickly and put my body between the patient and the wall. I asked her to stop moving She did Neither of us were hurt, both of us could have been. My self-assessment – Wendy that was a thoughtless careless action you just did Her assessment – someone cared enough about her to put their life on the line for her We were worlds apart in our assessment of what had happened….. or were we?

Welcome to this Podcast series – Professional Boundaries, Your safety, your wellbeing.

I am Wendy Mcintosh from Davaar Consultancy and I am delighted that you are joining me on another journey of exploration, revelation and for some, consolidation on the theme of professional boundaries. This podcast series focuses on you and ways in which Professional Boundaries can assist you in the everyday work that you do. I have planned for six podcasts and I stay open to producing more as required. We plan to have a new podcast each week. I would love to have your input through questions, scenarios to explore, reflections from each podcast.

One of my aims for these podcasts is to have you engaged in this process with me. I know from experience that having discussions about boundaries and what it means for us in the work and services we provide is an important step in assisting us understand motivations for our actions. Contact details are provided at the end of this podcast.

Family, friends, and colleagues who have travelled with me over many years frequently identify what they refer to as Wendyisms. Words, sentences, a way of speak that emerges from me at different times when I yarn. I envisage there will be a few Wendyisms that present in these podcasts. Enjoy them when you hear them.

This is our second podcast and following from the first one, today’s session focusses on definitions and language used to assist us to explore, explain and understand what professional boundaries mean for you and the work you do. There will be four main definitions which I will tease out in this podcast these are: boundary transgressions, boundary crossings, boundary violations, and sexual misconduct.

Victor Frankel – stated – Between the stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose. In the scenario just presented, I did not create enough space to make a conscious choice. I reacted to some old response in me that I could not fully understand at the time. In reality, it took me many years of working in this space of professional boundaries before I had my “ah ha” moment. Before I could really appreciate whose needs were being met by my actions. We can only know what we know – until we learn something different.

Like many participants I work with I have wrestled with the definitions used in professional boundaries. I have had to dissect many scenarios, be challenged by many folks, and have read much literature in order for me to reach a place where I can say with some certainty – yes that was or that was not a boundary transgression. Yes, that was a violation, not a crossing or vice versa. I trust that this session will assist you the listener understand the definitions and to make sense of them in order that you may integrate them into your work. I believe that when we understand the definitions we can also have a different dialogue with colleagues about potential or actual transgressions that they have done. Individual interpretation of what constitutes professional boundaries can be problematic especially when social and professional contexts change.

Gardner & McCutcheon (2016 p33) argued that “Professional boundaries are constructed social phenomena that are open to interpretation, individuals within a defined professional group may have different expectations to their colleagues”. These authors argued that professional groups and regulator bodies may struggle to determine what constitutes a professional boundary transgression.

What follows are some comments from participants who completed boundary training with me either one to one, in workshops or through our online tool on boundaries. I see that the comments also highlight that sometimes individuals don’t know what they don’t know until they learn something new. From one participant, “Prior to commencing this course, my understanding of professional boundaries was indeed very limited. My understanding was only based on over-involvement crossings with no clear divide in my mind between boundary violations and boundary crossings” another participant “Having completed the online course, my understanding about professional boundaries is that boundary violations in working relationships is one of the more difficult ethical dilemmas you may be confronted with”. And finally “Prior to commencing this training my understanding of professional boundaries was blurred, I knew that boundaries existed …. I was reliant on watching the clinicians around me which offered a wide variance of acceptable boundaries. In retrospect, I see there were quite a few transgressions occurring”.

I argue that understanding the definitions of professional boundaries can enable us to be mindful of the spaces we are in, of the choices we make. To start our exploration about definitions there is some benefit in considering – what constitutes a boundary? A boundary is a border, an edge that marks the limits of an area. In the therapeutic relationship a boundary is the edge of appropriate behaviour at a given moment between the professional and the patient. If you reflect on your professional role, your workplace, your social group, your volunteer group – what is or are the borders that define the expectations of your role or roles? Interacting with other people means there will be many grey areas. The borders of the relationship may not be as clear cut as say the edges of lawn or the coastline around an island.

If you struggle with identifying the boundaries of your professional relationship then clear guidelines, role modelling, and clear professional expectations can assist you to stay safe. I reflect that if I wander aimlessly to the edge of a cliff and do not pay attention to where my next step takes me – it could be dangerous for me. I could fall off the cliff. Who knows what the consequences could be. Likewise wandering aimlessly in a professional relationship (be that professional to customer, or collegially) could take a person to the professional edge of safety and the next step could have serious consequences for both people in the relationship.

The most common definition of professional boundaries found in the literature is the “limits which protect the space between the professional’s power and the client’s vulnerability” (NMBA Guidelines 2010). According to Farmer, (2017) in health, the perception of a client’s vulnerability is deeply rooted in history with the professional being recognised as having the power, the influence, access to information about the client and their family and specialised knowledge, skills and at times a professional language. The power invested in the professional occurs through legislative, professional and organisational requirements.

Transgression refers to an act that goes against a law, rule, or code of conduct and there will be situations were transgressions could be a criminal offense. Professional boundary transgressions happen along a continuum between over and under involvement with clients (and in some instances family members of the client). The transgressions can be either crossings or violations or a combination of both. Professional boundary transgressions can also occur between colleagues. So let’s explore the three main boundary transgressions cited in the literature, boundary-crossing, boundary violation, and sexual misconduct.

Professional boundary crossings are considered to be a departure from the usual norms of the specific professional relationship they are – “brief excursions across boundaries that may be inadvertent, thoughtless or even purposeful if done to meet a special therapeutic care or need”. Crossings are considered to be harmless and non-exploitive. A crossing occurs once, a mistake, generally considered to be an unconscious mistake without intention to cause harm to the client. When a behaviour occurs more than once it is no longer a mistake, it is nor longer a crossing. Repeated behaviour is a pattern and in the burrowing we find intent. Repeated boundary crossings should be avoided this includes either crossings with the same client and /or repeated behaviour by the professional with a number of clients.

Professional boundary violations are not done for the well-being of the client and can result in significant harm to the client, violations – can result when the professional confuses their needs with the needs of the person in their care. In a violation, there is exploitation of the vulnerability of the client. A violation can occur in one event, or even in the initial encounter between a professional and the other person. Or a violation can be a series of encounters over a period of time, in some reported cases over many years. In a violation, the needs of the professional are more important than the needs of the client.

There is quite a list of needs to examine when considering professional violations. These include and are not limited to: physical, psychological, sexual, emotional financial. I will discuss these needs in greater detail in podcast three. There is a slippery slope between a crossing and a violation. The slippery slope can be as short as a couple of seconds or as long as weeks or months.

Sexual misconduct is generally preceded by relatively minor boundary transgressions and is “an extreme form of boundary violation which includes behaviour that is seductive, sexually demeaning, harassing or reasonably interpreted as sexual by the person who is the recipient of the behaviours from the professional.

So a couple of take-home points about crossings and violations. Crossings occur once Sometimes a crossing can be in the best interests of the client. And as I say to folks I do boundary work with – have good data that supports your rationale for the boundary-crossing you did. Violations can be a one-off event or a pattern of behaviour Violations are never alright Violations are never in the best interests of the client.

A theme consistently challenging for participants I see is where they have conducted what they assessed to be an Act of Kindness with a client. When that act is viewed by others – be that the professional’s supervisor, their regulatory body, the customer or family member of the customer – as a boundary transgression this can create a dissonance for the professional. The greyness of boundaries means that much will depend on the interpretations of witnesses to the behaviours in the context of the relationship or roles between the two people concerned. Context is important.

This is an area of struggle for professionals I see. They are astonished, angered, appalled and many feel ashamed to experience that what they considered and perceived to be a kind act, done for good and for the benefit of the customer, can be viewed by others as a boundary transgression. I believe that generally when a professional interacts with a customer they are not always considerate of how many people can be affected by those interactions.

I say to participants that I work with, in any interaction with a customer there are more than the two of you in the room. There are many other people who have a vested interest in how you are conducting yourself in that relationship. You just cannot see those other people sitting in the room with you, they do however have a presence in that relationship you are engaged in. There are many perceived acts of kindness, that have taken professionals to the edge of the border. Caught in time the individual is able to walk back from the edge and find someone to talk with about what they have been doing. With guidance and support from team leaders and supervisors, they have been able to do what I term recalibrate the relationship with the customer. For others stepping over the edge has come at a cost for them, their families and for the customer and their families. Context is important.

Acts of kindness can range from buying some extra food for a client with the professional’s own money to allowing a client to stay in their home to avoid homelessness. Another example could be when a client is in distress and tearful and even although the allocated time is up and there are other clients waiting to be seen, kindness is there to stay with the distressed client longer, however that can result in a negative outcome for the client who is now waiting to be seen. The kindness might be giving a movie card to a young person to go to the movies because the professional knows how much going to the movies means for that young person. The card is given as a gift and a comment “here you go enjoy this”.

Finally, an act of kindness, fuelled by a knowing that the elderly client loves roses, loves the smell and the colours of roses. The client talks about how much roses bring back many fond memories of their childhood. The professional also loves roses, loves the smell and grows roses and frequently presents the client with a bunch of freshly cut roses from his / her garden for the client to enjoy. The professional then enjoys the enjoyment of the client. But what I hear you say is wrong with giving a client roses from the professionals garden? My response at this point is to say, Context is important. And I invite you to take time to consider the question – whose needs are being met in the act of presenting the roses. First default – the client’s needs – they love roses. Roses bring back fond childhood memories. What’s not to applaud in the act of the professional when he/she gives the roses to the elderly client.

Remembering that boundaries are as complex as they are simple – what other intents could be there if we burrow down further. We will explore the act of giving and receiving gifts (which the roses are) in podcast three when we explore categories of concern. These acts of kindness can take people to the edges, to the borders of the professional relationship placing both people at risk of consequences that can not yet be visualised, perhaps not even conceptualized. Context is important.

Some crossing may be alright if it is in the best interest of the customer at the time. A crossing occurs once, a violation is a pattern of behaviour. Context is important. So using the definitions that we now have let’s explore that scenario at the beginning of this podcast. I want to introduce you to four main boundary questions that I consider to be essential in exploring an individual’s actions to assist determine – was that a transgression and if so – was it a crossing or a violation?

The four questions are: What was/is the intent or the purpose of the action / the content of the speech? Whose needs are/were being met? Were/are there other options available? (Generally, there will be a minimum of five options for each event) And the question I believe is essential – what stopped the person using another option? And don’t worry I will be repeating these questions numerous times in future podcasts.

What was my intent when I put my body between the patient and the wall? First default – to stop the patient harming herself Burrow down – I did not want her to hurt herself whilst I was “looking after her” Whose needs were being met? First default – the patient, I did not want her to harm herself. Burrow down – I was distressed, I did not know what to do, I had to do something. Did I have other options available to me? Always – I could have used my voice earlier, I could have let her go to the wall and maybe she would have started hurting herself or not, I could have pressed the emergency buzzer, I could have discussed options with the patient earlier in the shift – if this happens whilst I am in the room what could we do? I could have yelled STOP

What stopped me using another option? When I really burrow down – the assessment of the patient was correct – I did care enough about her to put my life on the line. I did care enough about her to put my life on the line. Let me just reflect here a bit longer with you adding some further context to the scenario. I had provided nursing care for this patient over many shifts. I did not realise at the time, not did colleagues talk with me about the potential of my becoming over-involved with her. At this time in the early 1990s we did not have the depth of information that we now have on childhood trauma and the impact for an individual’s development through life.

We knew very little about vicarious trauma or compassion fatigue, the term empathetic distress had not yet entered the professional language. I was experiencing what has been referred to by some authors as the empathy of pain. The patient’s pain, my pain. I experienced her pain and I wanted to be the one who could help stop her pain, I would do just about anything to assist her in her flashbacks, her intrusive thoughts, her painful emotions. In that brief yet highly significant couple of seconds – my caring about her was to put my life on the line. In retrospect when I burrow down deeper – the distress I wanted to ease, the person I wanted to save was myself. What I did not realise at that time was that my experiencing the empathy of pain was a red flag that I was becoming over-involved, over-invested in her care, her wellbeing.

I did not realise then that had I listened to, had I paid attention to the red flag, I may have chosen to act differently in the space that was there. I will discuss and give examples of red flags in more detail in podcast four. And here’s another question that I want to pose, was I really experiencing empathy?

Really what is empathy? How does empathy play out in the relationships we have with others? To me, empathy and boundaries have such an exquisite relationship that does require time to consider in detail. We will venture into empathy more when we discuss reasons for boundary transgressions in a future podcast. There I will return to the question was I really experiencing empathy in this scenario? If not empathy what was happening for me? Burrowing down, was there something in the patient’s story that resonated with my story? In that flash of time, what I refer to as a nanosecond or a split second, in that flash where a decision was made – there was a walking towards that edge, actually a running, I moved fast, the edge of the professional relationship.

It was fortunate that neither of use were physically hurt by my actions. However, there were other consequences that neither of us could have imagined from that couple of seconds of transgressions for me. Did I walk over, did I walk back? We’ll find out in podcast five.

I am enjoying my journey of writing these podcasts. Each time I write and reflect a deeper understanding occurs for me. I look forward to sharing session three with you where we will delve into the boundary framework in greater depth. In that session, we will explore Categories of Concern and Over and Under involvement. I will present some scenarios to you and ask you to put on your “Sherlock Holmes Professional Boundary curious hat”– what answers will you come up with as you start to integrate your learning from foundation stones one and two?

This podcast series has been written by myself Wendy McIntosh. A big thank you to family and colleagues who hear each podcast before it is released and who provide valuable editing feedback. Thank you to Nikki Fryn, my internet guru who has done the production for these podcasts. As I said earlier I would love to hear from you our listeners any questions, scenarios, reflections that you want to be discussed as part of a podcast session.

There is still much to learn and each question and scenario posed provides opportunities to expand learning about professional boundaries. My email address is wendy@davaar.com.au, you can also contact me through our social media of twitter and instagram. I would be delighted for podcasts to be as meaningful as possible to all who listen. So join with me. The spelling for Davaar is D for Donald, A for awareness, V for victor, A for awareness, A for awareness, R for Red flags.

Thank you for listening, lets meet again in session three.

Ep. 1 Professional Boundaries: What are they?

Posted by on 25 Nov, 2019 in Boundaries, Featured, Podcast, self-care | 0 comments

Ep. 1 Professional Boundaries: What are they?

Our New Podcast – Professional Boundaries: Your safety, your well-being

In this very first episode of the Professional Boundaries Podcast, Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD from Davaar Consultancy shares a short story from her own career and talks about Professional Boundaries and why it’s so important for you to be aware of them when working with clients, customers, patients, and colleagues.

In this episode, Boundary transgressions are explained along with under-involvement and over-involvement and why they matter. Listen as Dr. Wendy begins a discussion on strategies to avoid transgressions and crossings. A conversation that Wendy will continue in the following episodes. Use the links above to subscribe, or click the play button to listen to Episode one.

New Professional Boundaries PodcastEp.2 Definitions and language of Professional Boundaries

There are 6 episodes planned in this first season of the Professional Boundaries Podcast and we hope you’ll be back to enjoy and learn from each of them.

Dr. Wendy McIntosh welcomes both your interest and curiosity. Send Wendy questions at wendy@davaar.com.au

In this podcast series, Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD shares insights and strategies about developing and maintaining professional boundaries. Professional Boundaries are not limited to the clinical or therapeutic arena. If you are in a professional role – a teacher, support worker, police officer, a prison officer, council worker, hairdresser. If you are a volunteer or belong to a theatre group, a choir, a sports club, there will be something in this podcast for you and the relationships you have with others. Setting boundaries in our life is necessary for our emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical well being. Setting boundaries is about our safety.

Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD

Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD

Since 2005 Wendy has been developing her knowledge and interest in the area of professional boundaries. Wendy delivers workshops on boundaries in Australia (where she now lives) and Internationally when invited to do so. She is continually integrating learning and insights she gains from the work she does in professional boundaries. Wendy comes from a nursing, and predominately psychiatric nursing background. Wendy consistently receives feedback on her passion, knowledge, and creativity as a presenter and facilitator. Enjoy exploring boundaries in this podcast series as Wendy takes you on your own reflective journey on your professional boundaries.

Music from https://filmmusic.io
“Kool Kats” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com) &
“Long Road Ahead” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Trailer: Professional Boundaries Podcast

Posted by on 20 Nov, 2019 in Boundaries, Podcast | 0 comments

Trailer: Professional Boundaries Podcast

Professional Boundaries: Your safety, your well-being
Available 25th November, 2019

In the Professional Boundaries PodcastDr. Wendy McIntosh PhD from Davaar Consultancy shares insights and strategies about developing and maintaining professional boundaries. Using examples from her own experience, Wendy will describe and explain Professional Boundaries for anyone in a public-facing job or role.

There are 6 episodes planned in this first season of the Professional Boundaries Podcast and we hope you’ll enjoy and learn from each of them.

Dr. Wendy McIntosh welcomes both your interest, and curiosity. Send Wendy questions at wendy@davaar.com.au

Professional Boundaries are not limited to the clinical or therapeutic arena. If you are in a professional role – a teacher, support worker, police officer, a prison officer, council worker, hairdresser. If you are a volunteer or belong to a theatre group, a choir, a sports club, there will be something in this podcast for you and the relationships you have with others. Setting boundaries in our life is necessary for our emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical well being. Setting boundaries is about our safety.

Since 2005 Wendy has been developing her knowledge and interest in the area of professional boundaries. Wendy delivers workshops on boundaries in Australia (where she now lives) and Internationally when invited to do so. She is continually integrating learning and insights she gains from the work she does in professional boundaries. Wendy comes from a nursing, and predominately psychiatric nursing, background. Wendy consistently receives feedback on her passion, knowledge, and creativity as a presenter and facilitator. Enjoy exploring boundaries in this podcast series as Wendy takes you on your own reflective journey on your professional boundaries.

Music from https://filmmusic.io
“Kool Kats” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) &
“Long Road Ahead” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com)
License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Professional Boundaries and Cultural Bias

Posted by on 15 Mar, 2016 in Blog, Boundaries, Workshops | 1 comment

Professional Boundaries and Cultural Bias

Professional Boundaries and Cultural Bias

Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD

Dr. Wendy McIntosh PhD

Sometimes the obvious connections slip to the edge of my consciousness. I had not made a specific link between professional boundaries and cultural bias until a couple of weeks ago.

I was invited to facilitate a seminar for Interpreters on the theme of Cultural Bias. As I was researching content for the seminar, and more specifically, from the discussions during the seminar, light bulbs started going off in my brain. Neuroscientists would say it was the sparking of my neurons – however, I like the image of the light bulb, I guess I just have to be careful when I switch the light bulbs off and on.

(more…)

Why You Want Critical Feedback

Posted by on 7 Apr, 2015 in Blog, Boundaries | 0 comments

Why You Want Critical Feedback

Today I thought I would write about feedback, specifically what is known as critical feedback.

I have experienced critical feedback that has had both a positive and a negative impact on me. In reflection what has made the difference has been the delivery style of the individual who has given me the feedback. Where I experienced that the individual giving the feedback actually did have my best interests at the centre of their interaction with me I took in what they said and allowed myself to digest and make my sense of what they were saying. I felt able to approach them later to ask for clarification which also helped me to come to decisions.

(more…)

Reflecting for a moment…

Posted by on 15 Jan, 2015 in Blog, Good reads | 0 comments

Reflecting for a moment…

A new year begins and with it endless possibilities and choices for the present and future. I received a lovely present in the post today. A calendar of photos which captured moments from a holiday I had in Italy last year, was hand delivered. Only twelve seconds were captured and yet so much more time, emotion, thoughts and friendships are held in those seconds. How many lifetimes do we humans live in a second? If we were to capture 60 seconds of delight, joy and enjoyment that we experienced in a day how much richer would we be, I wonder.

I have also been delighting in the daily photos and videos that I receive via email of my great niece born last month in Scotland. I see her face change as she takes in her environment and the actions and voices of those who engage with her. I enjoy very much all of the seconds that I watch her. The magic of the internet to be so close to someone and at the same time thousands of miles away. Amazing. (more…)

Welcome to 2014

Posted by on 24 Jan, 2014 in Blog, Boundaries, Nursing | 0 comments

Welcome to 2014
Welcome to 2014

Welcome readers, to another year. What does 2014 hold for you, your family and your community? What specific plans have you made for the year in terms of holidays, study, changing jobs or developing a new skill for the job your currently hold? Is this the year to start that activity that you have been talking about for some time? That book you always wanted to read, has it been purchased yet? If so have you made the book visible to remind you of your wish to explore the writing held in the pages?

I ask these questions of myself as much as to you. When I actually allow myself time to pause and consider there are many things that I have put on hold for a number of years. I say to friends “I will do that one day”. I might even set a plan I will do a certain activity by a specific date. The date comes and goes and somehow I have managed to fit something else into the space. The book sits beckoning, the golf clubs become a beautiful landscape for spiders to weave upon and the book that I want to write remains unwritten. Yet I have not given up on these plans, they remain planted in me and yes I will get there.

On a different topic yet somehow related I invite you to look at a new TED talk posted in December 2013. It is well worth a visit. The speaker is Andrew Solomon and he talks about depression – his experience of being depressed and also depression as a broader theme. He starts his presentation by saying “I felt a funeral in my brain” and I was intrigued. One word that he used several times during his presentation really resonated with me, VITALITY. As a mental health professional for over thirty years, I do not think I have been so awakened to the nexus between depression and vitality.

As I listened to Andrew, I considered the restrictive language that I have used as a health professional when talking about depression. It is as if the word itself or perhaps our interpretation of depression creates a void in using a more extensive, elaborate, and descriptive language. Then I wonder in what ways the language we use when interviewing individuals who have depression may actually assist in keeping a depressive theme going? What would be altered if we were to ask questions about vitality? I suspect we would witness different stories emerging from the folks we engage with. Give it a go next time you talk with someone. Be curious about vitality, what does it mean to and for you?

Wendy

http://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_solomon_depression_the_secret_we_share.html [Photo by LadyDragonflyCC – >;< via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons]

Are you Crossing the Line?

Posted by on 8 Apr, 2013 in Blog, Boundaries, Nursing | 0 comments

Are you Crossing the Line?
Crossing the Line?

I have just returned from Adelaide where Colleen and I ran a one-day workshop, “Crossing the Line”, on Professional Boundaries as part of the Nurses for Nurses Conference held there 14th & 15th March. Those who have been to one of our boundary workshops will know that this is an area of professional passion for me. I’m always delighted to meet with a group of participants and share what I have learned, and also to hear their professional stories of boundary intrigue and transgression.

As part of my introduction to the boundary workshops, I share with the group that the content could easily fill four or five days training. In fact, at a recent workshop one participant suggested a five day residential and I am warming up to that idea for 2014.

Generally by lunch time on day one, participants express to me,

I can see how this could be five days long, I did not previously appreciate the complexities of professional boundaries.

This gladdens my professional heart to see so early on in the workshop that participants are delighting in their understanding of the depth of knowledge required to maintain safe boundaries in the clinical arena.

In professional boundary work I have done with individuals and groups I have become increasingly aware of the relevance of boundaries in order to maintain one’s own well-being (and that of the client). With knowledge and skills gained through participation in our workshops and through robust and challenging discussions, action and role plays, individuals inform us later,

I can go to work now, set limits, enjoy the day, feel satisfaction with what I have done, and enjoy being with my family.

For some this awakening has moved them from a state of negativity about their work to enjoying the work they do. For others, its a relief to learn that its okay to say ‘no’, to set limits and that indeed, in terms of professional ethics, it can be a requirement of the professional role.

I believe that an integral missing link to boundary maintenance is having a good understanding about attachment theory. I believe attachment theory offers an insightful lens through which to understand, create and maintain boundaries. Just as clients may become attached to professionals, I believe that professionals can also become too attached to clients. This opens up both parties (and potentially their respective families) to ab area of professional investigation that many would never have envisaged. Attachment theory and boundaries are a realm that I will write more about in future blog posts, so stay tuned.

To me, boundaries encompass all that it is to be human and a professional. I like a quote by Schimelpfening (2007),

Boundaries are the emotional and physical space that we place between ourselves and others. Setting proper boundaries is important to our mental health. When appropriate boundaries are not set, we run the risk of becoming either too detached from or too dependent upon others.

As always, I welcome conversation and comments from you about my blog posts.

Wendy

Ref: Schimelpfening, N. (2007). about.com.health. Accessed http:// depression.about.com/29/12/2010

Do You Inhabit The Third Space

Posted by on 26 Jan, 2013 in Blog, Recommended Reads, self-care | 0 comments

The Third Space

I love encountering books that expand my understanding of my actions and specifically how I conduct myself in relationship to others. The Third Space, by Adam Fraser (Random House 2012), is such a book. For me, the main focus of the book was the importance of becoming thoughtful about transitioning.  This is the Third Space of the title – the time we spend switching between first and second space (where I am currently, to where I want to be).

Each time I read another chapter in the book I observe an excitement in me about the possibilities that I can create for myself in my personal and professional life. Thus transitions that I make must be meaningful to me. (more…)

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