Most of us have connections with the people we’re supporting where it’s expected that the “client” will share openly while the “helper” maintains a careful boundary between herself and the “client.” We get so accustomed to interacting in this way that we forget to open our hearts to people.
Appropriate sharing is the best way to do that. With our colleagues, we might share more intimate details of our lives that we wouldn’t share with people who have come to us for help. But appropriate sharing in a therapeutic relationship looks and feels different. We can share stories and feelings that we’ve experienced to let the other know that we are human and they can feel safe sharing with us. The key is not allowing our feelings and needs come before those of the clients. When that happens, we need to step back and remember who we are in this relationship.
I hope that this will eventually become a place where each of us can get some of our emotional needs by people who understand the reality of therapeutic relationships in a way our family and friends might not. Let’s hear each other the way we hear clients–this will fill our empty tanks and keep us from losing heart in our work.