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Confessions of a Former People Pleaser

The Radical Act of Rethinking Your Boundaries

Alicia Muñoz, Alicia Muñoz

By Alicia Muñoz - I used to view boundaries as a fancy way of dressing up rejection, incompetence, and selfishness. But after a decade of working as a couples counselor, I've learned just how much they create safety in relationships. They’re guardians of our life force, energy incubators, protectors of precious emotional resources, stokers and fuelers of self-respect.

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June Quandary: My Client Ghosted Me!

Five Clinicians Give Their Take

Chris Lyford, Chris Lyford

By Chris Lyford - Sara, 26, had been attending weekly therapy three months, and had developed concrete strategies with her therapist to help her manage her depression and anxiety. He thought they'd developed a strong bond, but Sara has missed her last two sessions. Her therapist texted her after the first missed session to ask if everything was okay, but still hasn’t heard anything. He keeps worrying he might've done something wrong. Should he reach out again? Here, five therapists weigh in.

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Five Things Seasoned Therapists Wish They'd Known

. . . And the One Question You Should Always Ask Your Clients

Chris Lyford, Chris Lyford

By Chris Lyford - Whether they’ve been practicing for three months or three decades, therapists are continuously honing their craft. But much of what we learn through trial and error, and hours upon hours sitting across from clients, we were never taught in grad school. So we asked some seasoned therapists to pass on the lessons they wish someone had told them when they were first starting out.

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February Quandary: My Clients Are Asking Personal Questions!

Five Clinicians Give Their Take

Chris Lyford, Chris Lyford

By Chris Lyford - A therapist works from his home office, which means clients sometimes observe elements of his personal life. He's had clients ask about his electric car in the driveway, his dog, and where his kids go to school. He's gently asked these clients if they can stay on topic, but worries about seeming callous. Here are five creative examples of how other therapists have dealt with this.

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When Therapy Calls for a Boundary Crossing

A Story About When Professional Helping Meets Human Concern

Dea Silbertrust, Dea Silbertrust

By Dea Silbertrust - After surgery, my therapist's willingness to trade the comfort and security of her office for my apartment would be considered a boundary crossing by some. But in accommodating me, she demonstrated the difference between a boundary crossing and a boundary violation, and, more important, what it means to offer a simple act of grace to another human being.

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Managing Confidentiality

Three Things I Learned from My Small-Town Practice

Daniela Gitlin, Daniela Gitlin

By Daniela Gitlin - When you practice in a rural town, sometimes it can feel like everyone is connected to each other. Instead of worrying about boundary and confidentiality violations, I've learned a strategy that embraces the dilemma instead of avoiding it.

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December Quandary: I Accepted a Gift from My Client!

Five Clinicians Give Their Take on What to Do Now

Chris Lyford, Chris Lyford

By Chris Lyford - Asha recently gave her therapist a homemade necklace, which he accepted, thinking it innocuous enough. Now, she brings it up almost every session, asking why he's not wearing it and if he still likes it. Asha has a history of attachment issues, and her therapist worries his response might offend her or cause her to quit therapy. Here's how five therapists say they'd respond.

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A New Year's Conundrum

A Stumped Therapist's Attempt to Help Two Parents Set Boundaries Has a Surprising Result

Ron Taffel, Ron Taffel

By Ron Taffel - At 15, Jenny regularly breaks her curfew, flirts with drugs, and is getting close to being suspended from her Manhattan public school. Today, she and her parents are in my office discussing the latest issue: New Year’s Eve is coming up, and Jenny and her posse have plans.

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The Mentor Who Changed My Therapy Practice

…And How Two Little Words Changed Everything

Chris Lyford, Chris Lyford

By Chris Lyford - While therapeutic skill is the product of years of practice and self-determination, most clinicians need a mentor: someone who takes them under their wing and inspires them to be a better therapist. The five clinicians whose stories you’re about to read all agree on one thing: seeing how their mentors practice left an indelible mark on their personal and professional development that still resonates today.

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Reflections from a Millennial Therapist

The Highs, Lows, and New Realities of Starting a Therapy Career Today

Rachel Zar, Rachel Zar

By Rachel Zar - I'm a millennial. And despite the negative connotation often imposed upon this generation by the media and by the generations that came before us, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing after all—especially for a therapist.

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