How can therapists be sure that they are maintaining professional boundaries if they are open with their history of challenges?
As outlined in the College of OTs of Ontario's Standards for Professional Boundaries, "A boundary is the implicit or explicit demarcation separating the professional relationship with a client from one that is personal."
Sharing one's own history of challenges is inherently personal, and the therapeutic relationship needs to be a professional relationship - not a personal one. However, market research among consumer-survivor groups has shown that most service users or potential service users appreciate knowing that their therapist has gone through challenges of their own.
At Prevailing Minds, we abide by the following code of ethics to reconcile these points and to provide effective and safe client care:
1. Therapists engage in specificity regarding self-disclosure if and only if the self-disclosure is determined by all parties to benefit the client (eg. to build rapport, foster trust, encourage commitment to strategies/approaches, etc.)
2. Therapists do not seek to gain anything personally by engaging in self-disclosure
3. Details shared in self-disclosure are details that are only relevant to client care
4. Client feedback is solicited and incorporated on a regular basis
5. Reflective practice is paramount, eg. be aware of potential boundary crossings, consider and address changes in therapeutic relationship, etc.
6. Therapists do not engage in any relationship with clients outside of the therapeutic relationship
If you have questions or concerns regarding the above, feel free to contact us.