As a mental health therapist, there’s a crucial element to keeping healthy relationships between clients.
Boundaries provide a safe and supportive space for your clients to explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors–
Plus, create clear guidelines/rules/limits of how you would like to be treated.
Here are 3 other reasons why setting boundaries can transform your practice:
- To protect your own mental and emotional well-being: Setting boundaries allows you to manage your energy and emotional resources, plus avoid burnout.
- To maintain professional boundaries: Maintaining professional boundaries is essential for the therapeutic relationship to be effective. This includes maintaining confidentiality and avoiding dual relationships (e.g., becoming friends with a client outside of therapy).
- To establish a safe and supportive therapeutic environment: Setting boundaries helps to create a safe and supportive therapeutic environment where clients can feel comfortable exploring their thoughts and feelings with you. This includes setting limits on the type of behavior that is acceptable in therapy (e.g. no physical aggression) and establishing clear expectations for the therapeutic relationship.
As you can see, boundaries create clear expectations, which helps your practice run efficiently and effectively. But if you are questioning how to actually put them in place, here are 3 of my top tips on HOW to set boundaries:
- Communicate your boundaries clearly: This can include setting limits on the type of behavior that is acceptable in therapy, explaining your confidentiality policies, and establishing clear expectations for the therapeutic relationship so you’re upfront right from the start.
- Use “I” statements: Using “I” statements can help you communicate your boundaries in a non-judgmental way. For example, instead of saying “you can’t do that,” you could say “I feel uncomfortable when you do that, and I need to set a boundary to protect our therapeutic relationship.”
- Take breaks as needed: It’s important to remember that you are not always on duty as a therapist. It’s okay to take breaks and set boundaries around your availability to your clients. This can include setting limits on your availability outside of regular therapy hours, and taking time off when needed.
Setting boundaries helps protect your own mental and emotional well-being, maintain professional boundaries, and create a safe and supportive therapeutic environment for your clients.
By communicating your boundaries clearly, you can effectively manage the demands of your work and provide the best possible care for your clients.