Boundaries and Training Curriculum

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Maintaining Professional Boundaries in Interpersonal Work

First 5 Santa Cruz County Service Integration Brown Bag Lunches August 2008

Conducted for:

August 4: Kelly Wolf, Program Manager CASA of Santa Cruz County August 8: Francis Krebs, Supervisor Health Services Agency, Children’s Mental Health


I. II. III. Welcome & Introductions Defining personal boundaries Small group discussions a. Why are professional boundaries important in our work? b. What are some potential consequences of a service provider having loose or poor professional boundaries? c. What are some factors that could make it hard to create and maintain professional boundaries? Report back to big group Small-group work on scenarios Report back to large group; brainstorms techniques for creating & maintaining boundaries Closing comments & evaluations

IV. V. VI.


Prepared by Kelly Wolf, CASA of Santa Cruz County


July 2008

Source: Professional Boundaries: A Nurse’s Guide to the Importance of Professional Boundaries,

Prepared by Kelly Wolf, CASA of Santa Cruz County


July 2008

What Are Professional Boundaries?
Clearly established limits that allow for safe connections between service providers and their clients “Being with” the client, not becoming the client Being friendly, not friends The ability to know where you end and the client begins A clear understanding of the limits and responsibilities of your role as a service provider

Prepared by Kelly Wolf, CASA of Santa Cruz County


July 2008

The Importance of Boundaries
Role modeling to the client healthy communication and professional relationships Avoiding the “rescuer” role Staying focused on one’s responsibilities to the client & the provision of helpful and appropriate services to the client Avoiding burn-out (“compassion fatigue”) If working in conjunction with other services providers: maintaining a healthy, open, communicating and functioning team Maintaining one’s physical and emotional safety

Prepared by Kelly Wolf, CASA of Santa Cruz County


July 2008

Consequences of Having Loose/Poor Boundaries
Compassion fatigue – the service provider’s role may not feel sustainable Potential for “splitting” on teams Client may not be given appropriate or helpful services, which could affect his/her willingness to accept future services Client may feel betrayed, abandoned, and/or poorly served Service provider may act unethically The reputation of the service provider’s agency and/or profession may be compromised Service provider and/or client may be emotionally traumatized and/or put in physical danger

Prepared by Kelly Wolf, CASA of Santa Cruz County


July 2008

Why Is It Difficult to Establish and Maintain Professional Boundaries? Dual relationships – The service provider & client know each other in a personal context from another setting.

relationships, feelings, lifestyle and/or life circumstances conflict with the service provider’s values and/or knowledge about best practices.

Values conflicts – The client’s choices, history,

Vicarious trauma – The service provider experiences trauma

symptoms from hearing about the client’s experiences. The service provider may be triggered due to having a history of similar circumstances.

Playing the “hero” role – The service provider feels the need to “save” the client.

other team members are fulfilling their responsibilities to the client, believes that he/she can provide their services better than they can, and/or believes that the client works best only with him/her. The service provider takes over the roles of the other team members.

Poor teamwork – The service provider does not trust that

Prepared by Kelly Wolf, CASA of Santa Cruz County


July 2008

Signs that Boundary Issues May Be Present...
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