You might be surprised to learn that one of the most frequent reasons that psychologists lose their licences to practice is that they have sexual relationships with the clients. You see, many clients enter therapy with hurt and, in sharing the intimate details of their lives with the therapist, are vulnerable. If the psychologist does not have good boundaries and professionalism, the two can become so emotionally close that they move into the physical arena without considering the consequences of doing this.
There are many areas that a therapist or business owner needs to protect with healthy boundaries so that they do not end up in trouble. For example, personal disclosure is an acceptable therapeutic tactic but, in the wrong hands, too much or the wrong information can form a foundation for a therapist when the client decides to use this for the wrong reason or to hurt the therapist.
Boundaries are like fences. Think about a large football field. After the game everyone runs onto the field and there is chaos. If you live your life like a football field there are times that others will take advantage of you and not know where you end and they begin. Over time you can become resentful of the way that they move into your life and help themselves to whatever they need without considering your needs.
Now think about building a life that is surrounded by huge cement blocks similar to the ones that are used to build schools or gymnasiums. These keep everyone out and prevent you from having relationships with others as you are blocked from any possible interaction. This is a lonely way to live.
Finally, imagine that you are sitting on your porch looking at your front yard. Around the property is a nice white picket fence that surrounds the property and keeps both animals and small children out. You can see between the pickets and over the top of the fence so you have a good view of what is going on in the world. There is a gate at the end of the walkway. Notice that the latch for the gate is on the inside of the fence. That means that you have the ability to open and close the gate so that others can enter and leave when you choose for this to happen.
Healthy boundaries are like the white picket fence. They allow you to be involved in the world but also have your privacy. When you set up personal and business boundaries, you will find that there are fewer problems and you will be able to enjoy others while, at the same time, having the ability to enjoy your privacy.
Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure…every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email firstname.lastname@example.org