boundary in group vs individual therapy, empathy, compassion, burnout, vicarious trauma

Thanks for permitting me a chance to share my perspectives on boundary in group vs individual therapy, empathy, compassion,  burnout, vicarious trauma.

In my group, we emulate the First Nation’s talking or healing circle idea.
Talking circles are a non-hierarchical form of dialogue. Participants sit in a circle, which symbolizes completeness, and discuss a topic. The thoughts and feelings of all participants are valued equally. The seating arrangement allows all participants to see each other's non-verbal cues.

The group norms are reviewed at the beginning of each and “every” session after introduction and before sharing begins.  It is also reinforced during the session whenever opportunities arise.



The norm results in a safety boundary that is the delineation between the intention to serve the oneness (the greater good) and the intention to serve the contracted notion of self. 
Patients do not have to share at all or may share their authentic and personal struggles and solutions within above boundary.  Listeners are to accept these perspectives  as other’s reality and not to comment or criticize.
In my case, individual therapy are run as a group of two with above boundary and solution-focused sharing.   Individual therapy allows  patients to share personal narrative in greater details than that is relevant to others in the case of a larger group.  I don’t think the details is necessarily important for healing; infact the preoccupation with life challenges that are without an actionable solution is often the root of the mental health challenge.  I generally try to redirect their attention to a solution-based perspective and eventually invite them for group therapy to gain and share more perspectives if appropriate and possible.

Empathy is one of the neurodiversities.
It is not necessarily independent of other neurodiversities.
It is the ability to reflexively mimick or mirror another’s emotional experience.
It is neither good or bad.
We all innately possess this ability  but to varying degree.   One possess too little empathy may more likely be a psychopathic killer or tyrannical dictators.  One possess too much may more likely be “borderline”, anxious and depressed.  Having little less may be useful for a funeral directors, a soldiers, a police chief, maybe even a trauma surgeon.  Having little more may be useful for a nurse,  a counselor, a parent, a teacher, a spouse, a friend.
While, individual’s perception of the world is influenced by this ability; the net experience can be modified by the ability to appropriately assign attention to it.

(Without knowing above, two individuals on opposite side of the normogram would have difficulty understanding each other.)

Compassion is not a decision.
It is the awareness of oneness.
This awareness depends on the sufficient accumulation of precise perspectives of interdependence.  
These perspective are often painfully leaned after their opposites have caused pain, suffering, illness or calamities.
Examples of such more precise perspectives are:
What my mind wants to eat is not necessarily what my body needs.
I can not truly be happy if my wife and kids are not.
My body will it get what it needs unless others grow and transport food, utility to me and take garbage and sewage away from me.
I can not really enjoy my life, if my neighbours locally and globally are hungry.
I can not truly have peace if there is no world peace.

With sufficient perspectives, compassion is a consequence.

As compassion is the awareness of oneness, then self-compassion and compassion for others is one of the samething.
Eg. 
If am truly ok just the way I am (self-compassion) then what I do for you is truly for you (compassion).
If what I do for you is truly for no other (compassion), then I must be ok just the way I am (self-compassion)

Burnouts is the inability to pay sufficient attention to both demands real and imagined.
One solution is:
1. Distinguish between needs real vs imagined ( gaining precision through listening to groups collective perspectives)
2. Let go of what’s imagined and focus on the real by increasing ability to choose object of attention ( mindfulness training).

Vicarious trauma is the inability to redirect attention sufficiently away from empathetic emotions mirrored from patients traumatic experiences.  I believe one with high degree of empathy are more prone to VT.  
One solution is to  become mindful of this neurodiversity; make external choices to adapt; let go of imprecise judgement of self and others; and to increase the ability to choose object of attention through mindfulness training.

Thanks for reading!

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