Setting Client Boundaries

Many of your clients likely respect your boundaries, which includes avoiding asking you personal questions or questions about your dietary habits. They also hopefully respect your time and your adherence to your work and personal schedule. 

But what about clients who step over some of these lines? You may have taken counseling classes back in school where you role played various scenarios of “clients” who wanted to know whether you’ve ever struggled with your weight, or clients who wanted to know more about your personally. You might feel uncomfortable providing such information – and the bottom line is that you don’t have to! You may recall learning how best to redirect your client by asking them why they want to know this information about you – how would it help them in their journey or in reaching their goals? Remember that your session with your client is about them – and not you. 

You may have also heard stories from colleagues – or perhaps this has happened to you – where a client continues to talk and share even though your time together during a particular counseling session is up. Or a client calls or texts out of the blue to share progress or a food recall with you. Your time is valuable – you spend time prepping for sessions, meeting with clients, scheduling, charting, and more. Make sure your half-hour or hour-long appointment doesn’t become a two-hour appointment! 

While it might be uncomfortable, have a line or two in your back pocket so that you can firmly and clearly inform your client that your time is nearing to a close, for example, “We are nearing the top of the hour, and I want to be respectful of your time and mine; why don’t you finish your thought so that we can get you scheduled for next week?” Or, “I’m so glad you called! Yes, I would like to walk through your progress this week but right now isn’t a great time. Are you available tomorrow for a session?” 

Invite your clients to respect your boundaries – they’ll even up respecting you as a professional even more! 

What tips or tricks do you implement to set boundaries with your clients?