Clear and Ethical Boundaries Track 4 - Defense Mechanisms
Question 4 found at the bottom of this page
We have explored your attitudes and how they are linked to learned behaviors and gender culture. Now let''s increase your self awareness of the impact of your personal needs in light of defense mechanisms, security versus growth, and middle-class values.
Regarding defense mechanisms, the nature of life''s demands are such that there are times when it is constructive to make temporary use of defense mechanisms like -- denial, projection, regression, fantasy, and so on. As you know, this helps us to guard against anxiety and pain that would otherwise be overwhelming. For example, I treated a client, Jane, who used denial as a reaction to her husband''s physical abuse. Only when it extended to her daughter was Jane able to overcome her fear, face reality, and make use of help and resources.
As you know, you need to be able to recognize the presence of defense mechanisms both in yourself and in your clients. Ask yourself whether your uses of defenses are constructive -- or destructive, consciously -- or perhaps unconsciously aware at the time. As you know, your selection of a particular defense mechanism is strongly influenced by your background. For example, do you have a family member that uses humor to deal with painful feelings? If not, what coping mechanisms did your family use...denial? projection? regression? Think for a minute…when a client uses these mechanisms, do you become uncomfortable because they mirror your issues? Do you need to more consciously set a boundary between your feelings about a client''s use of a defense mechanism and the ones you employ?
To assist with this process of learning to know and use yourself more effectively related to your awareness of setting ethical boundaries with your clients, ask yourself the following questions: How do I think and feel about myself? Answer in one word or a phrase. What is my self image? Do I feel I am physically or intellectually handicapped in some area or do I feel I am whole? Do I see myself as old, middle-aged, or young? Am I fat, thin, or average? I feel one of the most important factors in self awareness, and thus in setting ethical boundaries with clients, is how you feel about yourself. I know when I feel I like myself, I feel I usually relate in a more open, receptive manner to my clients. Let''s explore this further.
According to Brems, in "Dealing with Challenges in Psychotherapy and Counseling,"
The point to be made here is, setting ethical boundaries with clients begins with your comfort level with yourself as a basis for making objective treatment decisions.
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