Having Healthy Boundaries in Recovery

Having Healthy Boundaries in Recovery

by Erin Oden, ASW, Clinical Director

Types of Boundaries

When I bring up the topic of boundaries with my patients, I am often met with the expectation that we will just be speaking of the personal area that surrounds one’s physical body. However, through discussion and education, I help them to discover that one’s boundaries are much more than just a defined physical space.

So, what are the other types of boundaries, you may ask? Well, I am happy to help answer that question.

Physical: physical space and personal touch

Ways this boundary can be crossed: hugging when not invited, speaking too close to someone, touching someone when not appropriate, standing too close in line, entering into a room without being invited.

Emotional: feelings and emotions

Do you become highly argumentative, defensive and/or emotionally engaged without very much provocation or appropriate interaction? If so, you may have poor emotional boundaries.

Sexual: emotional, physical and intellectual aspects of sexuality

People in early recovery often struggle with sexual boundaries due to struggle with emotional intimacy and vulnerability, heightened emotions during post-acute withdrawal and/or struggle with validating self. These can lead to inappropriate flirting, having sexual relationships when not emotionally ready, disrespectful talk about the opposite sex, over-sharing about sexual conquests and/or history, etc.

Time: how a person uses his/her time.

Balance and structure are both important for people in early recovery. We at ARS help our clients to have a set, day-to-day schedule. Other ways one can overstep this boundary is though being late, being too early, taking up more time than is allotted to complete something or talking so much that others do not have time to speak.

Intellectual: thoughts and ideas

This boundary is crossed when someone belittles another’s thoughts or ideas. Making judgments, bullying and/or taking credit for or plagiarizing are other examples of this type of boundary violation.

Material: money and possessions

Do you give people money or give gifts inappropriately? Do you allow others to use your things regardless of how expensive or precious they are to you?

Why are boundaries important?

1) Boundaries help us to have increased self-awareness.

2) Boundaries help us to create our own sense of self-esteem and self-worth.

3) Boundaries help others in understanding how to appropriately and respectfully interact with us.

4) Boundaries help us to feel safe.

5) Boundaries help us to have balance in our lives.

We at ARS are working to help our clients to have enriched experiences of life. Having healthy, appropriate boundaries is one of the primary steps toward creating a stronger sense of self-respect and improved interactions with people in one’s life.





by Erin Oden, ASW, Clinical Director

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