Working at the boundaries in counselling
It has been stated, rightly in my view, that ‘no therapy of a corrective nature can occur until clear and safe boundaries within which to hold the therapeutic relationship have been established’ (Hunter and Struve 1998:77). For the purposes of this discussion of working at the boundaries in counselling, I will take as a starting point Owen’s (1997) concept of boundary as referring to ‘the expectations of counsellors for appropriate behaviour that have been set by their professional body, their training and the professional literature, which explicitly or implicitly defines required and disallowed forms of involvement’ (p. 163). In this chapter I will argue that the ethical use of self in therapy can accommodate an evolving understanding and management of boundaries. For the therapist who comes to rely on an enlightened use of self in their counselling practice, boundary management may increasingly come to mean a reliance on internalised and intuitive holding structures that have less to do with observing externally set limits than with knowing oneself and what one is capable of containing and sustaining.