That isn’t selfish. It’s responsible. It’s for the same reason that you are supposed to put your own oxygen mask on first in a plane crash. There is only one me. It’s nobody else’s responsibility to make sure I’m OK to do the work I’m here to do. If I continue to help you to my own detriment, then I’m eventually going to burn out. Then I will definitely fail you. And then I’m no good to anyone else.
I try really hard to “first do no harm”, but sometimes it is impossible. If you stomp all over my boundaries or treat me with disrespect, then somebody is going to get hurt.
It’s going to be both of us. Not just me.
I am no longer just wearing clients’ bad behaviour or projections. It takes too long to recover from. And it’s just not fair.
I can have compassion for the hurt, fear or desperation that may be behind it. But I am under no obligation to accept abuse or harassment. I have every right to hold reasonable boundaries, and to put the safety and wellbeing of myself and my family first.
I run a business. I am caring and friendly, because that’s who I am. But my responsibility to provide anything to you ends at the completion of the session. Trust me when I say that I give you everything I have during our sessions. There is no more owed to you. My down time is mine.
If you over-step boundaries, break the terms of service or otherwise cause me to feel unsafe, please be assured that this will be communicated in a polite, reasonable and respectful manner. However, this courtesy will not be extended indefinitely. Continued transgressions will result in the withdrawal of my services, and I have no inclination to reply to ongoing messages of harassment. You will be blocked. Intervention orders will be obtained if necessary.
Likewise, if I feel that treating you is beyond my scope/abilities, or if I find myself unreasonably drained or that my own trauma responses are triggered as a result of working with you – I actually have a professional responsibility to stop treating you immediately.
This will be communicated to you with respect and compassion, and without blame or judgement. But I can’t be in your field while I’m overwhelmed, tweaking out, afraid or annoyed. It would be really irresponsible. (It doesn’t fit well with that “first do no harm” thing. I need to be calm, stable, grounded, connected and able to hold a clean space of unconditional positive regard for you.)
Just as I promise to accept any decision by you to cease working with me, with good grace. I am well aware of the scope and complexity of the human psyche. Our perceptions can easily become distorted when under duress and sometimes random, subtle details can trigger one’s trauma responses. I have no desire to add to your pain or discomfort if I or my workspace inadvertently become entangled in your trauma and suddenly register as a threat to your nervous system.
I will be available to receive helpful feedback or to help unpack your responses at a later date, if required, but I will most certainly not insist on an explanation. I’ve been there myself and know that backing off is the most helpful thing to do. Your nervous system isn’t going to be helped to heal by being constantly plunged back into distress. I will give you your space.
I am confident in the level of integrity that I work from, the level of transparency, the quality of my intentions and the amount of value that I give to my clients. The professional boundaries that I have in place (including the Terms and Conditions) reflect that. I hold myself to a high standard of professional conduct. And I have always been very generous with my time and effort. Being able to provide that requires me to responsibly manage my emotional/mental state and physical health, as well as maintain the physical environment of the clinic space. All of this demands time, space, discipline and the resources for my own healing work, recovery and self-care. My time when I’m off-the-clock needs to be respected.
I am obviously open to hearing from you about anything directly related to your session, and I also love receiving occasional updates via email, so that I know how your system is responding to the work. But it’s not OK to inundate me with messages, emails or phone calls. Or to contact me outside of my business hours. Respect me like you do your Dentist, GP or Psych. I’m sure you’re not calling them on a Saturday night because you had a fight with your mother.
This work requires its own sacred space and a certain amount of preparation to create that space. Responding to you when I’m not in that professional space can be tricky. I am a normal human being. I have many facets. Grocery shopping me, annoyed me, drunk or silly with friends me, headachey/exhausted/recovering me, the-dishwasher-just-exploded me, or just in-the-middle-of-something-else me – may not have anything useful to give you. And may even harm the professional relationship. When I’m in professional mode, in session – I’m prepared and connected to my resources. That’s when I can help. Ask me then.