limitations and boundaries of social work
Recently I was challenged with the question: are there areas of client need that I can deal with emotionally and/or can not provide support in an effective manner?
This week I found myself watching a news production related to domestic violence. In the piece a women retells her story including graphic details of the emotional, verbal and physical abuse sustained at the hand of her husband. A home video, recorded by the women’s young child, depicted the abuse which spanned more than 90 minutes. Incidents similar to this supposedly occured on a regular basis over the course of her almost 17 year marriage. During the video I had an incredibly strong psychosomatic response where I was sweating, shaking, heart racing, and felt the need to leave the room. Even as I recount this I am reliving this response. I was incredibly surprised by this. After all the years I have worked with distraught, chaotic, and extremely dysfunctional families, I have rarely had this sort of a reaction.
Does this mean that I could not effectively work within a population of domestic violence victims? I have worked with some in the past however my role comes into play days or months after the abuse and many minimize the true intensity. Perhaps elements of my own relationships and those I witnessed within my family were represented within this woman’s story. Does personal experience with trauma make on a better helping proffessional? Or does it interfere with one’s ability to be neutral and professionally distant? Some therapy advocates for a certain level of personal disclosure in order to make a client comfortable, facilitate oppenness, and join with a client related to an issue. How do I determine what my limitations are and/or should be? So this is my dilemma for the week.
I don’t expect to find an answer to this question today… but I would appreciate any feedback!