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Maintaining Healthy Professional Boundaries

Maintaining Healthy Professional Boundaries

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Maintaining Healthy Professional Boundaries

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  1. Maintaining Healthy Professional Boundaries Presented by: Jim Messina, Ph.D. Assistant Professor: Troy University Tampa Bay Site

  2. Objectives of Presentation • Identify if you are having problems maintaining professional boundaries with your client’s and/or their families • Identify if you are a compulsive fixer or rescuer which could impact your maintaining healthy boundaries with your clients and their families • Identify tips on how to maintain healthy boundaries in your professional work

  3. Do the Self-Assessment on Professional Boundaries Results: If you have answered • Yesto 3 or more items or • Yes and/or Sometimes to 5 or more items • There is a strong possibility that you are maintaining weak boundaries with your clients and or their families based on your behaviors with them

  4. What are Healthy Boundaries? • They are framework within which professional helper-client relationship occurs • They make the relationship professional & safe for client • They set parameters within which helping services are delivered • They refer to line between self of client & self of professional helper

  5. What do Healthy Boundaries include? Healthy Professional Boundaries include: • length of a session • time of session • personal disclosure • limits regarding the use of touch • the general tone of the professional relationship • fee setting (if it is not a pro-bono service)

  6. What Drives Healthy Boundaries? Boundaries must be set &maintained in helping relationship to insure: • Helper does “No Harm” to client in helping process • Rights of the client are respected & honored • Helper is always respectful of &conscious of need to guard privacy of client • Helper does not take advantage of &recognizes extent of “vulnerability” of client in situation

  7. 1st Example of Blurred Professional Boundaries with Clients Dual Relationships • One cannot be both helper & “friend” or “significant other” to client due to reality it is too easy to lose perspective in helping client & client loses perspective as to helper’s real role in client’s life • Helper has a “power or authority” role with client even if helping service in not fee-based service • Important not to confuse client in creating relationship where roles become blurred &where expectations & demands on helper become magnified due to demands & needs of client who has been befriended &overly attached to helper

  8. 2ndExample of Blurred Professional Boundaries with Clients Becoming a Friend with Client: • Providing “help” to another in need has visual & emotional aspect of “friendship” it is important while client is still in helping relationship to maintain boundary of no friendship • However once services are ended there is no prohibition to becoming a friend with an ex-client • Danger in becoming a friend while serving a client is that emotional vulnerability of client will become sensitized & if you should not be able to spend amount of time or provide amount of services which client expects to receive from a friend there is situation which is ripe for conflict, hurt feelings &conceivably exacerbating needs of client who already was vulnerable &in need prior to this helping relationship being established

  9. 3rd Example of Blurred Professional Boundaries with Clients Self-Disclosure • When helper reveals very personal information about self with client which sharing has no real purpose in goals of meeting the needs of client • Such self-disclosure take spotlight off of client’s issues &focuses rather on helper • Unless a specific therapeutic positive outcome is to be gained by self-disclosure helpers ought to avoid it • When helper is ready to disclose one must ask question: Does self-disclosure serve client’s therapeutic goal? Unless it can be justified, stay away from self-disclosing to maintain healthy boundary maintenance with clients

  10. 4th Example of Blurred Professional Boundaries with Clients Maintaining Business-like Helping Situation Protocolswhile providing help to clients This means maintaining a professional relationship which includes: • seeing clients only during work hours • seeing clients only in “appropriate professional locations” where helping relationship is to be performed • only taking emergency phone calls from clients on rare occasion &not make nightly or weekly phone calls between clients & helper a normal routine

  11. 5th Example of Blurred Professional Boundaries with Clients Not giving or receiving gifts of significant value between helpers &their clients • If such gift giving were to transpire, client who gave gift could expect “special” treatment from helper & conversely helper could feel “more obligated” to go outside norms of typical helping protocol to “pay back” client for client’s generosity in gift given • To avoid such confusion in future rule would be to just abide by No Gift Giving Guideline

  12. Questions to Ask in determining Boundary Issues with Clients (1) • Is this in my client’s best interest? • Whose needs are being served? • Will this have an impact on the service I am delivering? • Should I make a note of my concerns or consult with a colleague? • How would this be viewed by the client’s family or significant other? • How would I feel telling a colleague about this?

  13. Questions to Ask in determining Boundary Issues with Clients (2) • Am I treating this client differently (e.g., appointment length, time of appointments, extent of personal disclosures)? • Does this client mean something special to me? • Am I taking advantage of the client? • Does this action benefit me rather than the client? • Am I comfortable in documenting this decision or behavior in the client file? • Does this go against the Standards of Professional Conduct or the Code of Ethics of my professional field?

  14. Challenge to Helper in Maintaining Boundaries are: Being aware: • Be self-aware of feelings &behaviors involved in working with each client & family • Be observant of behavior of other helpers in the field &call them on it if they appear to be overstepping their boundaries with clients • Always act in best interest of clients & families • Most importantly DO NO HARM to your clients

  15. What might be blurring Boundaries? • Are you an addicted fixer or rescuer? Maybe this is keeping you from maintaining healthy boundaries with your clients • Take self-assessment instrument entitled: Compulsive Fixer-Rescuer Self-Assessment

  16. So are you a Compulsive Fixer or Rescuer? Results: if on this survey you have answered: • Yes to 3 or more items or • Yes and/or Sometimesto 5 or more items • There is a strong possibility that you are maintaining weak boundaries with your clients and/or their familiesbecause of your being an “addicted fixer” or “rescuer”

  17. So What Have You Learned • Let’s see what you have learned • Answer these questions as we go • Select the correct answer for each question • Share with your fellow participants as we proceed through these 10 questions

  18. Question #1 When referring to the relationship between the client and helper, boundaries are: • Actions that are not appropriate in client care • Whatever the client feels is appropriate • Whatever the helper feels is appropriate • The limits that define the helper-client relationship

  19. Answer Question #1 D. The limits that define the helper-client relationship

  20. Question #2 Boundaries are essential to protect clients from the helper’s • Power • Anger • Poor services • Lack of knowledge

  21. Answer Question #2 A. Power

  22. Question #3 Which is one of the clearest signs that a boundary violation has occurred in the helper-client relationship? • The client is not happy with his or her care • The helper hugs the client • The helper asks for a change of assignment • The needs of the helper are being met

  23. Answer Question #3 D. The needs of the helper are being met

  24. Question #4 Which of the following is the best example of a professional business-like boundary violation? The helper: • Shares personal information with the client • Asks the client if she would like to buy some “Mary Kay Cosmetics” • Is attracted to the client • Attends a party given by the client’s family

  25. Answer Question #4 C. Is attracted to the Client

  26. Question #5 Gerald the helper assigned to George, regularly talks about his personal problems with George. George is happy to listen to his helper Gerald’s personal problems and never complains about it. Since this relationship seems to benefit both parties it does not appear to be a violation of boundaries. • True • False

  27. Answer Question #5 B. False

  28. Question #6 The first person to realize there is a boundary violation is: • The client • The helper who is committing the boundary violation • A co-worker or the supervisor of the helper • None of the above

  29. Answer Question #6 D. None of the above since the correct answer would be any of the above

  30. Question #7 If there are things in the helper-client relationship which the helper would not want to record in the record of the client then a boundary violation is likely. • True • False

  31. Answer Question #7 A. True

  32. Question #8 Gill is a 46 year old client who has become very attracted to his helper Suzette who is 35. Suzette is equally attracted to Gill. Their personal relationship began when Gill shared his feelings of attraction to Suzette and she shared her similar feelings. Since Gill wants this relationship it is OK for Suzette to allow it to develop. • True • False

  33. Answer Question #8 B. False

  34. Question #9 Albert is a helper who has been working with Charles for the past year and it is now time for Albert to leave this client setting due to Charles no longer needing the assistance which Albert has to offer. However on his last visit he finds out that Charles is lacking enough food supplies in his house to keep he and his family fed for the next week. Albert’s best response is to: • Call Salvation Army to request they drop off food from their food pantry for Charles and his family • Bring groceries to Charles homes after he gets off from work that day • Notify the agency for whom Albert works about Charles’ circumstances • Calls Charles’ ex-wife to inform her of Charles pressing need for groceries in his house to feed himself and his family

  35. Answer Question #9 C. Notify the agency for whom Albert works about Charles’ circumstances

  36. Question #10 Jackie is a “Mary Kay” distributor in her community and while working with her client Maggie Jo, Maggie Jo sees the logo on Jackie’s purse and says: “Oh I love those products and I sure could use some more…” Jackie’s best action is to: • Request a change of assignment away from Maggie Jo • Give Maggie Jo the name of another Mary Kay distributor in the community • Tell Maggie Jo that she cannot sell product to her but can sell it to her relatives or friends • Sells Maggie Jo the products she needs

  37. Answer Question #10 B. Give Maggie Jo the name of another Mary Kay distributor in the community

  38. So How Did it Go? • Have you a better idea as to what Maintaining Professional Boundaries with your clients and their families is all about? • Can you now identify if you are a compulsive fixer or rescuer which could impact your maintaining healthy boundaries with your clients and their families? • Can you now Identify steps you can take to maintain healthy boundaries in your professional work?

  39. Resources on coping.us to help you with Professional Boundaries • Overcoming the Need to Fix: http://www.coping.us/toolsforhandlingcontrol/overcomeneedtofix.html • Tempering Idealism: • http://www.coping.us/toolsforhandlingcontrol/temperingidealism.html • Eliminating Caretaker Behaviors: • http://www.coping.us/toolsforhandlingcontrol/eliminatecaretakerbehaviors.html • Letting Go of the Uncontrollables and Unchangeables • http://www.coping.us/toolsforhandlingcontrol/letgouncontrollablesunchangeables.html • Accepting Powerlessness • http://www.coping.us/toolsforhandlingcontrol/acceptingpowerlessness.html • Developing Detachment http://www.coping.us/toolsforhandlingcontrol/developingdetachment.html • Establishing Healthy Boundaries http://www.coping.us/growingdown/healthyboundaries.html