Tips for maintaining personal and professional boundaries in therapeutic work.
Personal boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits people use to protect themselves from being drawn too much into their clients’ lives and from being manipulated or violated by others.
They allow professionals to maintain psychological safety for themselves and their clients, and make objective decisions about the therapeutic process to most effectively assist clients to achieve their goals.
Without these personal boundaries, professionals can run the risk of getting too involved in clients’ issues and wanting to “rescue” their client from their situation. While workers cannot “rescue” their clients, they can work with clients to help them achieve their goals, which may include supporting them to change their situation.
Professional boundaries are the legal, ethical and organisational frameworks that protect both clients and employees, or workers, from physical and emotional harm, and help to maintain a safe working environment.
Sometimes we encounter challenging situations in our therapeutic work which can make maintaining these boundaries difficult. For example, if a client:
Situations such as these require workers to have a clear understanding of their role and ethical principles, and the organisation’s policies and code of conduct.
It is also important for workers to be clear and assertive with clients about the boundaries of their role and what is appropriate behaviour for the therapeutic process.
RAV is a community-based, not-for-profit organisation, with no religious affiliations. Our services are for all members of the community, regardless of their religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle choice, cultural background or economic circumstances.
Our vision is for positive, safe and respectful relationships for couples, families, schools, workplaces and communities.
For more information on our programs, locations and how to access our services, please call 1300 364 277.
RAV provides services supporting individuals, couples, parents and families. These include counselling, relationship education courses and programs, and support groups for people affected by family violence.
We also provide a range of resources that can be downloaded free of charge from our website and run a professional development workshop on Professional Boundaries in Therapeutic Work.
In this workshop, you’ll learn about the professional and personal boundaries of helping roles, why professionals need them and why it’s important for them to regularly reflect on their practice.
For more information contact RAV's Training and Development Team by calling (03) 8573 2222 or via email.
Download a PDF copy of this tip sheet.