Last Updated on February 2, 2017 by Morris Green
So, what are your professional boundaries?
Are you a substance abuse or addiction counselor or seeking to become one? Watch as Yvonne Ward, LCAS, CCS, teaches the 4 key areas of maintaining professional boundaries with clients and substance abuse counseling professionals.
When we talk about professional boundaries, we are referring to the ethical guidelines and expectations that a professional uses to guide their everyday interactions with the client’s and families that they serve. It is necessary for the clinician to clarify their role at the beginning of the therapeutic relationship so that the boundaries are clear. Why might we want to make this clear from the beginning?
The Responsibility of The Substance Abuse Counselor
Our first responsibility as counselors is to do no harm to the clients we serve. In taking care to do no harm, we should take the time to share with them our role as a clinician. As well as how we plan to help them as we develop the therapeutic relationship. This creates a safe environment for the clients and guides the therapeutic process. It is important for clinicians to build a rapport with the clients they serve and clarify roles at the start of the therapeutic relationship supports a trusting therapeutic relationship. It is also important for the clinician to distinguish for themselves as well as clients the difference between being friendly and being a friend, ensuring that each client knows and understands the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship.
Clearly Established Goals Maintain Professional Boundaries
Clinicians should be professional at all times and have specified goals that they are working on with clients. Sometimes it is difficult for clinicians in recovery to separate their own recovery from their professional role as a clinician. The professional arena should not be the place that the professional uses to get their own needs met.
Self-Care for the Substance Abuse Counselor is Key To Professional Boundaries
Professionals should take the time to practice self-care so that when they are participating in a therapeutic interaction, they are giving the best of themselves to the client that has come to them seeking help. Self-care requires that the clinician be able to recognize when they are in a vulnerable place and may need to take time away from providing direct services so that they can re-energize and return to role as a clinician with no reservations. It may be necessary for clinicians to take a personal inventory and be aware of their own biases, so that they do not impose their morals and values on the clients they serve. Clinicians should be able to identify their stressors and stress relieving strategies that work for them, since everyone is an individual and no one strategy works for everyone. Clinicians should remember to be good role models since not only our clients are watching the things that we do, so are the novice clinicians that we work with as they begin their journey in the health care field.
Adhering To Ethical Guidelines & Supervision
Clinicians should be familiar with the specific ethical guidelines that implemented by their licensure boards and they should seek assistance if they are unclear about the specifics of guidelines implemented by their licensure boards and they should seek assistance if they are unclear about the specifics of the boards ethical guidelines.
On-going clinical supervision is one way to ensure that the clinician is providing services when they are at their best, which helps to ensure they do no harm to the clients they serve. Sometimes licensed clinicians discontinue on-going supervision because their specific licensure board does not require it; however, the most seasoned clinician should participate in supervision even if it is peer supervision, as a means of supporting their own person and professional growth.