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“Dancing on the Edge”

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“ CARING TOO MUCH”
The Value of Maintaining Therapeutic
Boundaries in Our Work
Presentation by Elizabeth Causton, MSW
In our work, �caring too much’ is very different
from �caring a lot’
When we become over-involved emotionally,
it often means that the family’s story has
become our story, or a reflection of our story
and as a result, we risk creating confusion in
the family dance and additional stress for
ourselves
When we have clarity about where we
are coming from, as well as respect for
personal boundaries …
we will find that we can feel deeply,
and still think clearly, and act wisely
in our work
The Heart/Mind Balance
We do not get lost in sympathy and
grief nor do we remain cool and
distant
Every family has a dance
пЃ®
Every family dance has a (long!) history
пЃ®
Every step taken on every family �dance
floor’ has a reason in the context of that
history
When one member of the family
dance begins to do their part of the
dance differently, the whole dance
changes
Remember that nothing exposes �fault
lines’ on a family dance floor like crisis
and change
Dealing with the crisis may also mean
dealing with what is being revealed by
the crisis
If family members see us as an
audience, no wonder they might be
пЃ®
Shy around us
пЃ®
Hypersensitive to criticism
пЃ®
Trying to put their best foot forward
When we see people struggling with a
difficult or painful dance, it can be tempting
to want to get out on their dance floor to:
пЃ®
�Fix’ the dance
пЃ®
Direct the dancers
пЃ®
Give them �our’ solution to �their’ problem
пЃ®
Imply that there is a right or wrong way to
approach their disease,treatment,
decision making process, death, grief
If we find ourselves frequently labeling
families as those who �dance well’ and
those who �don’t dance well’… we
need to understand
THE HEAVEN AND HELL
OF TEAM
The value of our role is to stand
on the edge of the dance floor
пЃ® To
observe …from our perspective
 To comment…on what we see, as
appropriate
 To normalize…the sense of loss, the
emotional responses, and the
challenges
Therapeutic Distance
пЃ® Knowing
where we stand in
relationship to the people we are
working with
 It means that we don’t get �lost’ in our
work
Signs that we may be on
someone else’s dance floor
пЃ® Extremes
пЃ® Finding
of emotional response
it hard to �share’
пЃ® Needing
to control decisions made
by the patient or family
HOOKS
The often unconscious attachments or
associations we make with people who
remind of us of a person or a relationship
(perhaps still unresolved) on our own
dance floor
пЃ® Until we identify the pattern involved, we
may find ourselves repeatedly �hooked’
onto other people’s dance floors
пЃ®
How can we be more clear about
where we stand in our work?
пЃ®
By being clear and honest about our own
needs
пЃ®
By learning to see and value our own
dance
пЃ®
By consciously striving to be in a dance
that supports and nurtures us
“How would it change the dance if we all
approached the lives of others and
engaged in our own lives knowing that
we are all intrinsically well and inherently
whole, in need only of being drawn forth
into the discovery of our own unabashed
completeness?”
Saki Santorelli from “Heal Thyself”
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