Our Role in Maintaining Therapeutic Boundaries

With Elizabeth Causton, MSW

Maintaining therapeutic boundaries will help us to avoid labelling and judging when we provide care for the dying and family. How do we do this when we are watching the person and their family struggle?


  • 0:08 What is our role, in relationship to our colleagues, the dying person and their family, in terms of maintaining therapeutic boundaries?
  • 0:23 The family dance changes: When one person changes the dance, everyone needs to change their dance. The entire dance changes.
  • 1:05 Family feels they are being watched: Caregivers need to remember that family must change the dance steps while they are dancing. They do not get to stop and take a break to make adjustments
  • 1:47 Story: Experiences of changing the dance steps while the dance was going on.
  • 2:50 What happens when we (the audience) come along as the family is having to adjust the dance steps?
  • 5:30 Every family dance has its own fault lines and cracks. These open and create bumps when dealing with crisis.
  • 6:25 Story: An old gentleman is dying and his children, who live away from him, are now here to help support and make decisions.
  • 7:50 Judgements and labels are often made as we compare our own values and beliefs to those of the dying person and family.
  • 8:20 Story: Older man who is dying and his wife continues to bring him custard puddings, long after he can successfully swallow. This creates problems for the dying person, family and staff. How can this be understood without labelling or judging?
  • 10:33 Questions that you can ask when a similar issue arises:
    1. What is their dance?
    2. What is their story?
    3. What am I missing that will help me to understand?
  • 10:55 What are the possible explanations in this story?
  • 12:56 It is not our role to fix, or to rescue or to judge behaviour.
  • 13:43 Our role is to maintain heart and mind balance.
  • 15:40 End.

All Rights Reserved. Life and Death Matters, 2015.