Nobody likes a list of rules. Whether they’re do’s or don'ts. But when it comes to boundary expectations with clients, it’s best to get in the habit of establishing things early. And if necessary going over them often. Many clients are reaching out to you in time of great need. Taking the time to set boundaries will give you and your clients the structure to build a respectful, consistent, and trusted relationship.
Things to DO until they become second nature.
- Remember: the focus of the therapy you’re providing is solely on the client and their progress.
- Any sessions whether in person or via video should take place in a therapist’s office setting; if you are in a home make sure there is no overlap between your office and personal living space.
- Set limits on personal information you disclose to a client
- Maintain transparency about your professional beliefs and practices if a client asks about them.
- Always maintain confidentiality about anything discussed in a therapy session
- If ever the need to consult with another therapist disclose that to the client
- Discuss client progress and revisit their identified goal(s) regularly.
- Stay consistent with appointment times.
- Stay consistent with submitting claims/billing.
Real world lessons you should certainly avoid:
- Discussing any other client’s experiences or sessions.
- Responding to your phone in any way during sessions.
- Eating during a session.
- Allowing any client to perform a service for you (house sitting, baby sitting, etc.)
- Recommending your client to a spouse or family member for other services.
- Set up clients on dates/meetings with others for social interaction
- Provide therapy to a client who is also a student in a course you’re teaching.
- Discussing potential shared business opportunities with a client.
Here are some other great resources about drawing lines, and being sure not to cross them.
Rewire article: What Boundaries Should you have with your Therapist?
HPSO article: Clients who Cross the Line
Counseling.org article: Boundaries across borders
Setting boundaries worksheet
Stay up to date with your state’s Laws, Rules, and Policies:
Colorado Addiction Counselors
Missouri Professional Counselors
Missouri Marital & Family Therapists
Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, Marriage & Family Therapist
Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals
Virginia Laws Governing Counseling
Online CEU credit
American Counseling Association
The Center for Ethical Practices
Professional Development Resources - for Psychologists
Ethics for Texas LPCs
Relias Academy Ethics for Professional Counselors
Social Work Online CE Institute
**Disclaimer: This document is intended for educational purposes only. Please check with your legal counsel or state licensing board for specific requirements