When professional boundaries break down

by

I dedicate this to my friend going through the same issues as my former mental health worker:

 

So lonely for female companionship was I

At a time I was so low

It was all I could do not to die

 

My young mental health worker caught my eye

So kind, so gentle, so pretty and trendy

I knew nothing about boundaries

And when I realised we couldn’t be together

It was all I could do not to cry

 

I just wanted her to be with me

I didn’t want to be free

I adored every second of her company

 

I was so into her

She was so into me

Yet it never could be

Because we were professional and client

And she could never be with me

 

So often I have heard this tale

Since my feelings for her turned my life pale

I became suicidal all over again

We’d become so close

We met up at weekends

I knew her date of birth and the rules she had with her closest friends

 

Young sad man lying on bed

 

And if she should ever read this

All is forgiven – but it takes two

No matter how much you hurt me

You were vulnerable too

And I will never, ever, hold it against you

 

The guilt that her bosses made me feel was overwhelming

When I sought help for the problems she had confided in me

A national charity for the issues she suffered saved the day

Their kindness, support and advice set me free

 

I wanted to share this tale with you all

Because I know it happens so often and guilt can be all consuming

It’s the professional’s responsibility to inform and maintain boundaries

You must feel no guilt or shame if you find your feelings confusing

 

And if ever I find myself in the same situation

It’ll be different next time

Boundaries will clearly be there

However kind, modest, gentle and devastating

Even if I feel a certain amount of loneliness and despair

 

Because I’ll know we could never be together

And the experience of the past will stand me in good stead

For I would cherish every moment I spend in her company

But keep things platonic in my head

 

If you have been affected by this blog:

If you have been affected by issues surrounding feelings and professional boundaries please see the following example documents -- note that none of the local organisations linked to was involved.  You can also call our partners SANEline on 0845 767 8000 (6pm-11pm) or Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 (24/7).

A typical NHS professional boundaries policy

If you have suffered abuse by health/social care staff:

If you have suffered, or are suffering, abuse by mental health or social care staff then the following documents provided by two beacons of excellence in mental health care may be very useful to you:

Please copy and paste into your address bar or Google search:

  • mind.org.uk/help/community_care/abuse_by_health_and_social_care_workers
  • creativesupport.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Safeguarding-Newsletter-final.pdf

Comments

Another moving and open post - great choice of song too. It is very common that client and professional boundaries become blurred, especially from a clients viewpoint, after-all you are sharing your innermost intimate thoughts and feelings with someone. As you say it is for a professional to set these boundaries and to ensure the relationship remains professional. Thanks for sharing.

Lovely post Ian. You inspired me to share some of my own poety.

Stay Well,
Natalie

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