How to Maintain Therapeutic Boundaries


One challenge that all therapists must face is how to maintain therapeutic boundaries. Therapists get to know their clients intimately, and this close relationship can lead to boundaries being crossed. In the long run, this is unhelpful to the patient-therapist relationship, and may negatively impact on the therapy.

As the professional, it is up to the therapist to be aware of proper boundaries in a client-therapist relationship and to understand the techniques for maintaining those boundaries during therapy.


How to Maintain Therapeutic Boundaries

Therapeutic Boundaries

1. Make sure that the seating arrangement during therapy is not inappropriately close.

The therapist and client can discuss their expectations and comfort levels regarding seating arrangements during therapy sessions.

Both the therapist and the client should be comfortable, but both must be aware that being physically close during therapy sessions can lead to the crossing of therapeutic boundaries.


2. Make scheduling arrangements that are good for both the client and the therapist.

The therapist should not change his schedule or otherwise disrupt his life because of the client’s needs. When the therapist demonstrates that he values his own schedule and needs, the client will understand the need to replicate this behavior in his own life.

This sets the necessary therapeutic boundaries of therapy, as the client sees how his therapist does not allow the client’s needs to supersede his own.


3. Be truthful in all therapist-client interactions.

Sometimes a therapist might say something because she feels that that’s what the client wants to hear, yet it’s not what the therapist really believes or feels. This can affect the trust between the therapist and client and impact negatively on the therapy.

Both the client and the therapist should be comfortable in verbalizing their honest preferences, needs and values.


4. Maintain a clear policy regarding proper therapeutic boundaries and stick to it.

Consider organizing a course for therapists and other mental health professionals where these issues can be discussed and clarified.


5. Make sure that the treatment paradigm is based on the needs of the patient.

Therapy for an agoraphobic may include going out with the client to public places, while for other clients, such an activity would mean crossing therapeutic boundaries. Each client’s needs are different, and this must be taken into account when setting up a treatment plan.



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