5 Ways Counselling Helps Build Better Boundaries

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Often people who are struggling with overwhelm in their work or home life may need to look at what their boundaries are like. In a healthy relationship, boundaries allow us to communicate our needs and protect our self interests. They also help others to be clear on what behaviour you will, and won’t, accept. Read on for 5 ways counselling can help with this.

1. Confidence

Man standing on a rock at sunset with arms outstretched

A lot of people who seek counselling want to feel more confident. Often this lack of confidence leads to weak boundaries, or none whatsoever. Feeing walked over? Or talked over? Maybe you’re struggling to have the confidence to say no.

Counselling can build confidence by examining your strengths and challenging your beliefs and, in turn, help you to strengthen your boundaries. And take a look at this graphic to give you some ways of saying no, without saying no!

Ways to say No without Saying No @newgladecounselling instagram post

2 Exploring the Past

Holding polaroid photos of travels next to a globe

Not all types of counselling look at the past. Many therapies use an analysis of the here and now as a mechanism for change.

But exploring the past is sometimes helpful to uncover unconscious patterns of behaving that we’ve picked up over the years. The very fact that these are unconscious means we can easily a fall into the same pattern over and over, never really knowing why. And boundaries, or lack of them, can often be at the centre of all this.

If you’ve ever said “why does this always keep happening to me?!” chances are there’s a pattern in there that you’re replaying without even realising it. And it might stem from a time in your childhood when you found a way of coping that has stuck with you.

By exploring these in counselling, you can become more aware of who you are and how you operate – giving you more choice over how you react to life and what new boundaries you can put in place.

3. Improved Self Worth

The word 'enough' spelt out in felt letters

Although low self worth doesn’t necessarily link to someone with weak boundaries, they can often go hand in hand. Because how can you be firm about what you want when you don’t really think you’re worth anything? If you feel worthless it’s very hard to see why anyone would respect your boundaries.

By working with a counsellor to build up your sense of self and your self worth, over time, you can start to value yourself more and realise that you deserve more. This can help you to work out what your boundaries need to be.

4. Finding a Voice

Use Your Voice written in letters cut from magazine

Sometimes people who come to counselling say they don’t feel heard by family and friends. They feel like their voice is lost somewhere in the noise.

Do you feel you have a strong voice? Or do you feel it gets lost, or goes unnoticed by others sometimes? Maybe you struggle to speak up for yourself or stand your ground. Counselling can help you work towards finding your voice and building the strength to use it to set your boundaries and ask for what you need. Powerful stuff.

5. Relationships

6 people's hands holding each other's wrist in a circle.

Many, many people seek counselling because of relationships. Whether it’s intimate relationships, issues with family dynamics, or work related issues, it all comes back to relationships.

Counselling can’t change the way other people think or behave, but it can help you look deeper at the dynamics between you and others. And help you begin to change the way you think or behave with others. Which often gives you a different outcome and can redefine and strengthen your relationships.

6. Giving a different perspective

Monkey looking into a wing miror

One thing counsellors are really good at, is seeing things from a different point of view. So by exploring different perspectives with a counsellor, you gain better insight into your own world as well as that of others. What this does is help you to take a step back from your life and reassess where you might need better boundaries in the first place. Maybe it’s a better work/life balance (because you hadn’t been able to see how work was causing you to feel overwhelmed), or maybe you end up looking for ways you can put boundaries in around your relationships.

Counselling can help you find where your boundaries need to lie, and give you the tools to put them in place!

Neurodivergence and Boundaries

As I work with mostly neurodivergent clients I thought I’d add in a little about neurodivergence and boundaries .

Masking, people pleasing, fawning, being hyper vigilant to others’ moods, body language or tone of voice – just some of the mechanisms that you might have used as a neurodivergent person just to fit in or belong. These were likely necessary tools just to get you through life, and may even have been survival responses.

So, if you’ve spent a lot of your life, morphing yourself to fit others’ expectations, it stands to reason that boundaries might be difficult for you.

All the above still stands in regards to boundaries but for neurodivergent people sometimes these boundaries look a little different to what society says.

The classic boundary of being able to say no is hard for lots of people, for lots of reasons. But the boundary of not having to talk if you don’t want to might be incredibly hard for someone who has been taught they must communicate in a neurotypical way so as not to be seen as ‘standoffish’.

Equally, the boundary of not having to answer questions might feel virtually impossible for a neurodivergent person. If you’ve always had to mask and mould yourself in order to be ok in the world – putting this boundary in place might feel fundamentally unsafe.

So the work here is not really for you, the neurodivergent person, the work is for the rest of society who expects the same of everybody, without accepting difference. A big ask sadly, but a perspective that might help you to see that you are not the problem.

The hope is that, as a neurodivergent person works through therapy, you begin to feel safer and find your voice. Then hopefully you are able to see that all these boundaries can be under your control and only you get to decide how much of themselves they share. Remember, you are valuable just as you are.

Amy is a counsellor specialising in neurodivergence and the founder of Newglade Counselling. She has created a team of neurodivergent counsellors who work online and face to face around Canterbury, Kent. Amy also provides parent support sessions, clinical supervision and delivers training in therapy and neurodivergence. For more information about our services contact us here

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