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Before you see me….

February 12, 2013

Knowing when to NOT see someone yourself in therapy is also important.

I just received a call from a woman I spoke with by phone – a year ago. She was in a violent relationship and she was abusing alcohol.I didn’t think it safe for her to attend couple counseling and I was concerned that her alcohol abuse would get in the way of anything I might offer her individually at the moment.

I advised that rather than seeing me, she seek counseling from a women’s shelter and that she address the alcohol issue through AA.

In today’s call she wanted to thank me for my frank guidance then and invite me to join her as she receives her 1 year medallion from AA – signalling a year of sobriety. It was a call I was thrilled to receive.

I won’t be joining her as she receives her medallion. I am concerned that it would cross a boundary from therapist to friend and I think it important to maintain my role should she need me as therapist. I am thrilled for her though and let her know in no uncertain terms, how pleased I am for her.

The best intervention at the time was redirecting elsewhere first.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

From → Uncategorized

  1. I can understand the need to separate the two relationships. Crossing professional bounderies (although no intent) may be precieved by collegues as unethical, compromising your professional realtionships and your reputation.

    I think it was a wise choice on your part. Your client needs to grow and spread her wings from the comfort and safety of her therapist.

    You have done your job which will allow for a different type of realtionship with the new therapist .


  2. ca23rt permalink

    I appreciate your post. Excellent job at creating boundaries for this client so she moves forward on what she really needs. Thank you,

  3. Marsha Blank, LCSW permalink

    You gave the caller excellent directives. Your interest in her, in one phone call, without meeting her, was apparently so meaningful, it made her feel she could trust you and follow your sound advice. I admire your willingness to help, even though you were not going to provide treatment for her. Someone listened to her needs.
    You made another wise choice by not attending her one year medallion ceremony. She wasn’t your client!

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