Some Handy Links

Greetings all, just a quick post to provide some useful information. 🙂 I am working on a post to talk about how I am actually doing but its slow going. Promise I’ll get there eventually. But in the meantime, I have a couple of useful things to share.

The first was an article for which a member on the psychcafe forum posted a link. The article is Ten Traps for Therapists in the Treatment of Survivors by James A. Chu, M.D. It’s an excellent discussion of how to handle treatment of trauma survivors written for therapists. I found it to be painful as I found so much of myself reflected in it, (and found myself thinking “OH dear, what HAVE I put BN through!?” :)) but reassuring as I find myself in a bit of a bad transference patch and this provided some much-needed perspective on BN’s behavior towards me. I suspect a lot of my readers will also find it useful. It was relatively jargon free and not hard to follow. As these things go, at least. 🙂

The second is that a Kindle edition of a truly excellent book on boundaries is on sale at Amazon right now for $2.99. The book is Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How to Say No by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I first read it years ago and have returned to it periodically as I think it is a very clear explanation of boundaries for the layman (especially if like me, at one time you had NO understanding of what they looked like and how they work). I have recommended this book before on my blog. It is written from a Christian world view but both authors are experienced clinicians and in my experience you do not need to share their worldview to benefit from this book. If you do not have a Kindle, do not despair!! Amazon provides apps on every imaginable platform (scroll to bottom of page) which allow you to read Kindle books. It’s a really great price and worth your time if you are interested in the topic.

That’s all for now, but I’ll be back soon. Take care all. 🙂

  1. Ann
    August 2, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    AG, We all miss you and I personally look forward to your next post. Thanks for the interesting article! Xoxo


    • August 2, 2013 at 7:08 pm

      (((Ann))) I miss everyone too! Just have this tendency to crawl into my shell when things get too hard/confusing. Doesn’t help that I am just past the mid-point of a four week break with BN. Thanks so much for your steadfastness. xx AG


  2. August 2, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Looking forward to your future posts 🙂


    • August 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      Hi Novicum,
      Welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting! I’ll try not to disappoint. 🙂 ~ AG


  3. August 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    I’m reading the article on traps and I was wondering what you thought about Trap #4 (Limits). The article gives an example of how a therapist got burnt out by allowing his clients to be able to call him 24/7, and I thought of how the Boundary Ninja allows this. Would you be able to say more about his policy? Are you really allowed to call whenever you need to? Are you limited to certain topics? I know you keep your calls very short, but does he have a limit on conversation times?


    • August 2, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      Hi again Novicum,
      Excellent question and one that I asked BN myself. 🙂 He truly provides 24/7 contact although the latest I have ever called was 10:30 at night. During one phone call early on I actually asked him how late it was ok to call and he kind of laughed and said if I wanted him to be useful up ’til 11 at night. But then he went on to add, very seriously, if its 2 AM and its an emergency, don’t hesitate to call. There are very few circumstances under which I could believe I would do that. I tend to try and call during his office hours if I can, but I have contacted him both on weekends and during his vacations by email or phone. I expressed my concern about being too much a number of times, but BN has been very clear with me that he is comfortable setting his boundaries. Part of that is that I do not call him directly, I call his answering service, then they page him and he returns the phone call when he is able. So he is in control of when he actually talks to me. He has also made it clear that if the frequency of calls rose to what he considered a problematic level, then he would address it in session. Not that I would be in trouble or it would get me sent away, but we would need to figure out why it wasn’t working since he would see escalating contact as a symptom of an unaddressed problem. He has been clear with me that he feels I respect his boundaries. I am not limited by topic, but I do tend to avoid doing too much processing on the phone, although it does happen. My shortest phone call with him was 45 secs and amounted to “you still there?” My longest phone call (which was an anomoly that happened only once) was 20 minutes. I was having a difficult crisis and he could not fit me into his schedule, so he called me at the end of the day on a Friday and talked to me on the phone. Most of my “longer” calls run from five to 10 minutes. Most of those have been times I have been triggered and needed help regulating my emotions.

      But part of why it works is that he IS comfortable setting boundaries. We do not chit-chat or talk about non-essential stuff on the phone. He monitors me during the call and when I am sufficiently calm, he moves to end the call. I want to make clear this is not done cruelly or callously, just firmly. We are usually pretty focused during calls. He is also careful to check in with me to make sure I am comfortable getting off before he ends and there have been occasions where he has checked in, I’ve fallen apart again and we continue. So for “emergency” calls he gets back within an hour but for routine scheduling calls, it can take several days. Emails are a whole different story. I can email him at any time but he does not respond unless I request that he does (lots of disruptions and sessions centered around my discomfort of asking for what I needed and avoiding calling despite knowing it was a more certain form of contact because it meant asking for something directly). And his response time for emails is anything from a few hours to several days. For scheduling emails, I have known him to take up to five days (which I am happy to say no longer bothers me). I will say that his response time tends to be better for more serious issues.

      His other protection is that aside from scheduling conflicts and needing to change my session time, he does NOT initiate contact. He is very responsive but does not check in on me. He trusts me to attend to my needs and ask for help when I need it. So bottom line, BN offers 24/7 coverage because he trusts himself to say no to clients when he needs to and makes sure that is strong enough to take care of his own needs even in the face of emotional pressure from clients. He is also acutely conscious of the fact that he cannot make up for what I didn’t have and may need to hurt me by making it clear, rather than holding out the promise of that which he cannot give and hurting me even more and deeply. I do not think that every therapist is capable of doing that while offering 24/7 contact and I also think some therapists would have a deeper emotional need for time away from clients. A therapist needs to, and in fact is professionally responsible, to know themselves well enough to set their boundaries in a place which they can maintain over the long haul. Hence, the limits trap. Hope that made sense. ~ AG


      • August 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm

        That was very helpful and insightful. Thank you so much for explaining. I hope you’re doing well 🙂


  4. Ann
    August 2, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    AG, You T sounds amazingly self-aware. I have a graduate degree in psychology, but stuck to doing testing, because I recognized I wouldn’t be able to set boundaries. I do believe that if your T allows for phone contact and e-mailing, he means it. I suspect he doesn’t offer that to all of his patients (Too much risk of burn-out). Obviously he sees how hard you are working towards health and knows you don’t take advantage. That speaks very highly of you. Actually it shows he trusts you and must see the value in his work with you. I am no psychic, but I believe he doesn’t get overwhelmed, because he must be very selective with whom he allows that type of contact. You are probably one of the very few ( though I am sure he would never tell you!) Also you don’t need to worry about posting, because your responses to our comments are also very insightful. Have a good weekend. Xoxo Ann


    • August 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      (((Ann))) You have no idea how much I want what you are saying to be true, but I feel like I have seen evidence that this is more widespread in his client base. On the other hand, my husband saw him for 10 years before I did and was never told about it (but had no need). One thing I do know you’re right about and that is I’ll never know. 🙂 But thank you for the high opinion of me, its much appreciated and very encouraging. Hope you had a good weekend (mine was good, spent it sewing!) xx AG


  5. August 2, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Hi, AG! You are missed… Thanks for the references. The gosh darn therapeutic relationship is just so difficult!!!


    • August 4, 2013 at 3:02 pm

      (((Cat)))) Thank you! And yeah, I think difficult describes it (at least right now) 😉 xx AG


  6. Ms. Sharkey
    August 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Very, very good article, and like you, I recognized a lot of myself in it. Painfully so. Not knowing the meaning of a trusting relationship, excessive neediness and dependency, repeated testing of my therapist to ensure his trustworthiness, a strong need to be in control and a desire to also let go of control. Check all those. In spades. Just last week, I sent my therapist some journal entries where I confessed that I am, in fact, attached to him and also, for the first time, told him of my desire for him to stretch or break boundaries with me, to give me special treatment as proof that I’m special. At session that week, I was so filled with shame at having told him that and so afraid he’d be angry at me that I could barely speak.

    Fuck, but this stuff is hard isn’t it?


    • August 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm

      Fuck, but this stuff is hard isn’t it?

      Ms. Sharkey, started laughing and crying at the same time when I read that. Well said, my dear, well said. Major kudos though for opening up to your therapist, its an extremely courageous thing to do. You said what you feared, but how did he respond? xx AG


      • Mrs. Sharkey
        August 4, 2013 at 5:15 pm

        He thanked me for sending him the entries, and said I had made myself very vulnerable in doing so. It was our first session after a long break, and my realizations came about when I realized that him going on vacation bothers me. I always swore that it didn’t bother – because I’m so much better and stronger than that, don’t you know? He was very kind and understanding, and was able to tell how abandoned I’d felt and how that had triggered a lot of childhood stuff for me. He seemed pleased and impressed that I had opened up to him, whereas that just didn’t make any sense to me at all. He was supposed to be angry and I was supposed to apologize and figure out how to make amends, because that’s how this all works, right?

        So, in short, I was a mess and he was great about it. As always. *rueful grin*


        • August 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm

          Mrs. Sharkey,
          Glad to hear it! I found it very helpful to consciously focus on getting a different response than I expected, helps build that new neuronal network. 🙂


  7. anonymously
    August 5, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Thinking of you and hoping to hear how you are doing as soon as you’re ready to post again. In the meantime, I’m also finding that article useful…and I’ve been wanting to get Boundaries, on several people’s, including my T’s, recommendation, for months, so I really appreciate the heads up.


    • August 5, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Hi Anon,
      So glad to hear you we’re interested in the book, I think you’ll get a lot out of it. Still working on the update. 🙂 xx AG


  8. Mallard
    August 6, 2013 at 7:58 am

    There are probably two things that have had a major impact on my ability to live life as a relatively functional adult. The first was a decent understanding of attachment theory and how unmet childhood needs continue to influence my thoughts and behaviour.

    The second was learning about boundaries. I literally had no understanding of boundaries as an abstract concept – nor did I have any practical notion of how they worked in reality until an early T gently helped me understand that how I lived my life as an excessively compliant people-pleaser wasn’t really helping me a great deal. I had no idea that I could somehow choose to change things.

    Looking back, the funniest thing about it all was when I finally got what on earth he was talking about and started trying tentatively to enforce my own boundaries with other people, I couldn’t wield my new found knowledge with any finesse. It was probably like watching a child try to eat with a knife and fork for the first time. I said no all the time. Just because I could.

    Other people’s boundaries… in many ways that remains a tricky subject. I have a tendency to make myself responsible for other people’s boundaries. This has definitely been amplified in therapy with current T and I do find myself tiptoeing around and retreating to my default position, which is to assume that I need to work things out on my own, for fear of driving others away. It is funny how pernicious that little piece of learned behaviour is still!

    I enjoyed the article on traps. I smiled ruefully at many of the examples 🙂


    • August 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      LOL I called it volume control. 🙂 When you have not experienced your own boundaries before it can be a heady feeling. I totally agree about other people’s boundaries, BN and I have done a LOT of work around me simply asking for what I need and recognizing that running into someone else’s boundaries is natural, that I won’t always know where they are beforehand. Scary stuff. Helps having a Boundary Ninja to show you how its done. 🙂 ~ AG


  9. AP
    July 1, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    I just discovered your blog, and I’m in love with it. I’m still catching up to the present date, and have read so many things that really resonate with me. I was so psych’ed to see a book on boundaries, as I frequently say to my therapist, “oh no…this is about boundaries again, isn’t it? Now tell me once more, what exactly are they?” To me, they are complicated, confusing, wishy-washy, and painful. I feel sure if I understood them better, my life would be easier (or at least more clear).

    As I went to purchase it from amazon, I saw reviews that said it was fairly religious-based, and I think that would really limit how much I get out of it. Do you have any other suggestions for a Boundaries-for-Beginners type of book that isn’t faith-based?

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions, and truly, thank you for the gift of this blog.


    • July 5, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      Welcome to my blog and thanks for commenting. I am very glad that you’re enjoying my blog, it’s very kind of you to say so. I don’t have another book on boundaries for beginners to suggest, I am sorry. However, as I said in my Helpful Books while there is a Christian perspective in the book, both authors are clinicians and the principles are psychologically sound and based on their experience. Honestly, the religious content is more aimed at reassuring Christians (who can confuse the call to turn the other cheek, and be forbearing with being abused) that drawing boundaries is actually a healthy, loving thing to do, and is supported by their theology. I do not think the religious aspects are such as to interfere with how useful the book would be. You might want to check your local library. Most will carry a copy of the book and that way you could take a look to see if it might be useful despite that content without any monetary risk. If I think of another useful book, I will come back and post it. In the meantime, you might find other useful books in the link earlier in this comment. I wish you the best, boundaries can be a tough concept to get our heads around, especially if they were not modeled for us. You may also find my post Boundaries, Dependence and Interdependence helpful. ~ AG


    • July 8, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      I realized I did have a resource to offer, it’s just not a book. I think you might find Captain Awkward’s Blog really helpful. She has an incredible grasp on boundaries and provides practical practice scenarios in response to reader’s questions, so there are a multitude of real life examples to learn from. She’s also pretty funny. Hope that helps!


      • July 8, 2015 at 1:29 pm

        You are so great, thank you so much! I hadn’t seen your Helpful Books section until you linked to it. After reading what you say there, and your comment here, I intend to pick up the book next time I’m at the library. For now, I’m going to waste more time than is probably appropriate picking through this new blog…as soon as I finish catching up on yours (I’m up to July of last year, and I’m waiting with bated breathe to see how you handle the last few days of BN’s vacation!). Thanks again for all you do!

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