There is a fine line between empathy and too much sharing.
The relationship between professionals working in the field with clients can be complex. It is not uncommon for a client to be reminded of someone else, and thus transfer those feelings upon the professional. Often, they will be reminded of another authority figure, family member or someone else they know that they know with who they had a close relationship with. They may even hold the professional to a very high standard, leaving no room for error in their mind. This is called transference.
The challenge to the professional is to identify these observed patterns of feelings and help the client to identify their behavior. While it is appropriate to let the client know you have experienced your own battles of addiction, it has to be with the goal of assisting them to overcome their particular issues. It can work the other way around as well.
Countertransference is created when the professional working directly with clients can often relate or create their own biases towards that person. It is extremely common. This situation can negatively impact the client and can be potentially damaging. This is why professional boundaries are imperative. Sharing too much personal information with clients can distract them from treatment and recovery.
Early recovery re quires discipline and work, when a client is distracted from this it can uproot their entire recovery. The best way to prevent this to be mindful of one’s own emotions and feelings. Focusing on this will create an awareness of behavior. Listening and hearing puts the professional at the best vantage point to get the client’s full perspective. This will help the professional to act in ways that are thoughtful and caring rather than being taken over by their own feelings.
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