For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you may have noticed that while I occasionally share examples from my own experiences, there is very little here about the personal details of my life.
Part of the professional training that we undergo as part of our education, is the importance of boundaries.
In a therapy session, the dialogue is supposed to be focused solely on the client and for the client. Any self-disclosure on the part of the therapist should be judicious, discreet, and based on the assessment that the client might benefit therapeutically from the share.
We are also trained to refrain from "dual relationships"- ones where we might be tempted to enter into another arrangement with a client: For example, if a client of mine is a massage therapist, I'm not supposed to hire her for a massage, because then I become her client, which could mess with our therapeutic alliance. We are meant to be caring for our clients, never the other way around. We try to keep things safe and professional, so our clients have that security and privacy.
But sometimes it gets a little more nuanced outside the therapy room, when appearing in public.
In my first session, I let clients know that if I see them in public, I will ignore then, to protect their privacy, but that if they want to say hello to me, I'm happy to reciprocate. This is fairly straightforward, and works well in these scenarios.
But sometimes there's a different kind of exposure:
When therapists write articles, books, or blog posts, lecture, create courses, or share info on social media, the tone is often more casual, and there is more personal disclosure than in the office.
There are gradations of propriety about what to share when, but there are few hard and fast rules.
I know for myself, there are some things I would share in a course product that I wouldn't put straight on my website. There are others that I would put in a blog post but not on social media. This is because I've come to know my audiences, and found a comfortable rhythm of what to share in which context.
Over the last few months, I've found another way to produce content. In my weekly email "schmoozeletter," I feel comfortable to tackle subjects that are a little more controversial and use examples that are little more personal, than I would on a public blog post or on social media. This is because this exclusive email audience has actively subscribed to this content, and to some extent they "know what they're signing up for." They don't stumble upon my article while traipsing through the internet, they deliberately request it because they've come to know me, and are interested in these perspectives.
I love having this platform, that's less public, more personal, and more curated. I value having readers who invite my content into their inboxes weekly, who often engage with constructive replies, indulge my discussion about delicate topics, and help weigh in on what new digital project to create. I recognize that an email list is still not confidential, it's still a professional avenue- meant to serve, not to vent, that clients can and do subscribe to it (and I welcome that.) At the same time, this email platform still feels more intimate, and I'm grateful to have people in this space which helps me practice and refine my writing, opinions, and perspectives. So if you enjoy this blog, and would like to see more writing like this, but a little more personal, casual, and sometimes opinionated, feel free to subscribe below:
Check out my new course!
Elisheva Liss, LMFT is a psychotherapist in private practice. Her book, Find Your Horizon of Healthy Thinking, is available on Amazon.com. She can be reached for sessions or speaking engagements at firstname.lastname@example.org More of her content can be found at ElishevaLiss.com