Archive for September, 2011

Sep 07 2011

Boundaries: In Process

Psychotherapy literature has extensive books, articles, essays and other documentation of the importance of therapists maintaining healthy boundaries with clients.

But what are boundaries?

Addressing the complexity of this concept of in their article, “The Concept of Boundaries in Clinical Practice: Theoretical and Risk-Management Dimensions”,Thomas G. Gutheil and Glen O. Gabbard make an interesting comment:

“What is a boundary? Is it too amorphous, protean, and abstract to define at all? Should we take refuge by saying, as St. Augustine was supposed to have said about time, “Time? I know what time is, provided you do not ask me”?”

Gutheil and Gabbord go on to discuss how the early lofty pioneers in the psychotherapy field, Freud, Melanie Klein, and Winnicott, among others, talked and wrote extensively about the importance of the “analytic relationship”, they all routinely established fuzzy and confusing therapy relationships with their patients.

Shocking as it may seem to contemporary psychotherapists, Freud apparently “analyzed” his own daughter, Anna Freud. There were practical considerations, like Freud did not not believe there were adequate psychoanalysts available for Anna and he believed that a father/analyst could be successful with a daughter/patient because unlike with a son, a daughter was not competing with the father over a mother’s affections. (Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Anna Freud: A Biography, p.114-116)

and Melanie Scott had a patient follow her on a vacation and “analyzed” him for two hours each day while he reclined on her hotel bed.

Not something the therapy community would condone in today’s world.

Read their article here for more interesting discussion of this important issue.

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