5 Words to Remember to Establish and Maintain Professional Boundaries



Boundaries are clearly established (legal and ethical) limits that allow for safe interactions between professionals and their clients. They are standards that foster quality service delivery. Boundaries exist to protect both the worker and the client. Appropriate boundaries allow professionals to offer effective interventions that are in the best interest of the client and do not compromise the values and skills of the worker. Strong professional boundaries also protect the agency and impact the way a professional relates to colleagues and supervisors.


Professional boundaries are a very important and complex issue. Many professionals, such as doctors, teachers, and social workers, have very specific rules of conduct that should be followed. Here 5 words to remember to help  establish and maintain professional boundaries in the human services industry.


1. Self-Awareness
Awareness of personality type and personal emotional needs, biases, values, and limitations is essential to a healthy worker-client relationship. A professional should always be alert to ensure that their wounds and motivations do not hinder a client’s progress.


2. Self-Discipline
Self-discipline dictates one’s words and actions. Self-discipline guides integrity, responsibility, dependability, and consistency in performing the functions of the job. Professional should ensure that they are not providing services outside of their area of expertise.


3. Self-Disclosure
Gaining a client’s trust is essential to progress, however, oversharing can jeopardize the connection and even put the worker in danger. Self-disclosure should be intentional and directly related to the working relationship. One can be friendly with clients but must not cross the line and become friends.


4. Self-Assurance
If a workers does not have confidence in him/herself then a client will not have confidence in them. If a workers lacks assurance in their skills and abilities or is unsure of how to handle a challenging situation they should always consult with a supervisor or manager.


5. Self-Care
Some staff work harder for their clients than their clients work for themselves. They are always on the clock anticipating the next crisis. Other workers are so consumed with their client’s needs that they lose sleep, become anxious, or even become sick. No one should give until they are empty. Every professional needs time to release, relax and rejuvenate. Avoid burnout and overwhelm by setting and sticking to appropriate expectations and an appropriate work schedule.


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SW Tip of the Day Set Clear Boundaries











Nicki Sanders, The Packaged For Success Coach, is an experienced trainer, group facilitator, and program manager. She has packaged her Masters of Social Work degree and over 15 years of work experience into Packaged For Success, a training and professional development company. Packaged For Success provides career coaching to college students, entry-level job hunters, and experienced employees seeking a promotion. Packaged For Success also offers communication and productivity improvement training for employees and supervisors and provides consultation on building sustainable, impactful, socially responsible community programs.

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