I do not hug my patients. Quite often we see the same pts over and over and we have to maintain strict boundaries with them. This does not mean I don't care about my patients, I do. I want them to succeed.
I have spent countless nights sitting up with my pts who need to talk it out, played games to distract them while they are detoxing, or just sit and color with them so they know someone is there. I have had students who see us playing games, or talking and think we aren't doing as much as say a med-surg floor when you can see the healing. Psych is about the subtle nuances that we see.
I will talk with them, laugh with them and root for them, but always from a therapeutic standpoint. I just don't hug them.
Working in psych, the one thing I can tell you is people are unpredictable. This time it's a hug, the next it could be pulling me to punch me in the gut. In psych there are is nothing but yourself as the method to healing and that means that those boundaries you put in place are for a reason. They protect you and your own mental health. You can be therapeutic without hugging.
You may have been told that you were being too close depending on how you were standing (where was the exit in relation to you), where the pt was in relation to you (again, blocking your exit, not visible to staff), what topics you were talking about (just general or personal), or how much personal info you were sharing. Also was your conversation in the milieu or a room? First thing I tell students when they are on my floor is head on a swivel, stay where I can see you, and do not share personal details.
Psych can be very rewarding if it's something you are interested in. I love it and am happy that I work with this population.