Therapist, Colleague, or Friend


Therapist, Colleague, or Friend

Stretching the Boundaries of the Therapeutic Relationship

By Lascelles Black

November/December 2000


When you work with people with AIDS and their families, stories of total devastation are common. I remember Mrs. Martinez, a grandmother raising six grandchildren on her own. Four of her five children had died of AIDS, and her surviving son was in prison. Over the years, many of my clients have had long histories of substance abuse. For me, the villain in their stories was usually the predatory drug dealer, who not only wrecked people's lives but also brought about the ruin of whole communities. I held the pushers responsible for the spread of the AIDS epidemic and the economic collapse of the Bronx neighborhoods where I worked. Some addicts committed crimes to raise money for the drugs that supported the lavish lifestyles of the leeches who preyed upon them. I knew parents who stole their family's rent money or food stamps and men and women who prostituted themselves, all to feed their addiction. Then there were all the innocent people who were severely injured because they got caught in the crossfire of drug dealers' turf wars.

One day, Delroy came to me for help. He lived in a shelter and had refused my outreach efforts previously, but said he needed to go to detox immediately. He was scared. Delroy told me he had been standing in line for crack in an abandoned building, and a woman ahead of him told the dealer, Chuckie, that she did not have any money, but would "suck his dick for crack." The dealer replied, "Not me. Do Bonecrusher," pointing at his pit bull.…

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